Learning from the Bundaberg Base Hospital scandal18 April 2009

Marissa Edwards looked to the Bundaberg Base Hospital experience when she started her PhD investigating what people do when confronted by wrongdoing in the workplace. Ms Edwards said her research went further than the traditional studies focusing exclusively on whistle-blowing. "I'm interested in the range of reactions to inappropriate or unethical behaviour in the workplace and the role of emotions in shaping peoples' responses," she said. "My definition of wrongdoing is fairly wide - I'm interested in the reactions of people to such things as bullying, fraud, discrimination, theft, sabotage, sexual harassment, etc." Ms Edwards said she had found evidence that emotions play an important role. She said, "The first stage of my research was a case study of Bundaberg Base Hospital." "Following that, I interviewed both observers and targets of wrongdoing from across Australia." "The final part of the study is an online questionnaire; I need at least 500 responses so I can draw conclusions with a degree of confidence." Ms Edwards said any employee who had come across wrongdoing in an organisation within the last seven years would be eligible to complete the survey. "Just go to confluence.business.uq.edu.au/display/~medwards/ to find an information sheet and consent form as well as the link to the survey itself. All responses are completely anonymous and no identifying information is collected," she said. Ms Edwards is in the final stages of her PhD at University of Queensland Business School. She is a recipient of a Graduate Student Scholarship from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and is co-editor (with Jerald Greenberg) of Voice and Silence in Organizations. PhD students at UQ Business School are eligible for up to $30,000 per year in addition to the Australian Postgraduate Award of $20,000.