Whistleblowing and Compliance in the Judicial Hierarchy

Deborah Beim

Yale University

Alexander V. Hirsch

California Institute of Technology

Jonathan P. Kastellec

Princeton University - Department of Politics

January 15, 2014

One way that principals can overcome the problem of informational asymmetries in hierarchical organizations is to enable whistleblowing. We evaluate how whistleblowing influences compliance in the judicial hierarchy. We present a formal model in which a potential whistleblower may, at some cost, signal non-compliance by a lower court to a higher court. A key insight of the model is that whistleblowing is most informative when it is rare. While the presence of a whistleblower can increase compliance by lower courts, beyond a certain point blowing the whistle is counterproductive and actually reduces compliance. Moreover, a whistleblower who is a "perfect ally" of the higher court (in terms of preferences) blows the whistle too often. Our model shows an important connection between the frequency of whistleblowing and the effectiveness of whistleblowing as a threat to induce compliance in hierarchical organizations.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 53

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Date posted: September 5, 2012 ; Last revised: January 16, 2014

Suggested Citation

Beim, Deborah and Hirsch, Alexander V. and Kastellec, Jonathan P., Whistleblowing and Compliance in the Judicial Hierarchy (January 15, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2141297 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2141297

Contact Information

Deborah Beim
Yale University ( email )
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
Alexander V. Hirsch
California Institute of Technology ( email )
1200 East California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States
Jonathan P. Kastellec (Contact Author)
Princeton University - Department of Politics ( email )
Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States
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