On July 29, Harvard Business School professors Aiyesha Dey and Jonas Heese join Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto partner Stephen M. Kohn for a National Whistleblower Day panel. They will discuss their research on the risks and rewards of whistleblowing.
Dey and Heese, co-authors of the 2021 article titled “Cash-for-Information Whistleblower Programs: Effects on Whistleblowing and Consequences for Whistleblowers,” have published multiple reports related to whistleblowing in the past few years. This article specifically looked at how financial incentives affect a whistleblower’s decision to report misconduct and if the potential consequences could be supplemented by a financial reward.
“People are naturally motivated to speak up against wrongdoing,” Dey said. “The question is: what obstacles do we put in their way?”
Dey and Heese’s research found that the expected financial costs of whistleblowing are significantly outweighed by the award amounts that can be expected. They encourage agencies to continue their high payout to those who come forward.
Their analysis also traced whistleblowers’ many hardships and what their social, financial, and employment state may look like following a disclosure.
“Let’s change the narrative: It’s not a financial reward, but rather a compensation for these costs,” Heese said.
Kohn, who will lead the discussion, is a leading qui tam attorney and a National Whistleblower Center founder. He is no stranger to large awards and their impact on the whistleblower process. Kohn represented Bradley Birkenfeld, who blew the whistle on $20 billion in illegal offshore Swiss bank accounts. He received the largest ever IRS qui tam reward in history: $104 million.
“The new whistleblower laws, and the rewards they authorize, have revolutionized accountability in the United States and abroad,” Kohn said.
Kohn, Dey, and Heese will discuss the article and its findings, generating conversations around whistleblower incentives and their effectiveness in attracting people willing to speak out.
The panel, “Understanding Whistleblower Rewards,” will take place on Friday, July 29, at 2:30pm eastern. Registration for the virtual event is free and can be found online.