Merit Principles Merit Further Investigation: The Influence on Employee Perception of Whistleblowing

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Merit principles have been fundamental to managing human resources for several decades in public administration. However, the meaning of merit and its relationship with other values needs more attention from the scholarship. This study investigates how three components of merit principles, i.e., tenure protection, merit-based hiring, and merit-based rewards, affect government employees in different ways by focusing on their willingness to report wrongdoings. This study finds from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey that tenure protection is a significant positive predictor of whistleblowing, and its negative marginal effect turns to positive when employees perceive their tenures are well protected. However, their willingness to blow the whistle is less related to merit-based hiring, while merit-based rewards have a positive effect on whistleblowing despite the ambiguous expectation in the literature. Employee empowerment, trust in management, and ethical leadership consistently increase the probability of whistleblowing. This study finds no evidence of interagency differences.