Deterring Unethical Behaviors in Marketing Channels: The Role of Distributor Whistleblowing

Academic Article


  • In marketing channels, distributor whistleblowing can deter unethical behaviors, though little academic research investigates this tactic. Drawing on whistleblowing literature in business ethics and organizational theory, as well as field interviews with channel managers, this article identifies and elucidates the notion of distributor whistleblowing in marketing channels. Specifically, this study investigates how a manufacturer’s control modes (monitoring and incentives) encourage or discourage distributor whistleblowing. This study also considers the impact of distributor whistleblowing on relationship quality and the moderating effects of exchange hazards (i.e., transaction-specific investments and market uncertainty). The empirical results from a sample of 211 Chinese distributors indicate that manufacturers’ monitoring inhibits, whereas incentives boost distributor whistleblowing. Further, a positive link arises between distributor whistleblowing and relationship quality, which is weakened by distributor transaction-specific investments and strengthened by market uncertainty.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zhou J; Sheng S; Zhang C