Whistleblowing and Worker Well-being: Evidence from Bangladesh's Garments Sector
In many developing countries, misbehavior within organizations often goes unpunished due to weak governance. Employees whose livelihoods are precarious - who have few alternative job opportunities and little recourse to legal institutions - are especially vulnerable. In this context, governance tools that safely provide voice and remedy may dramatically improve workers' welfare. In recent research on principal-agent-monitor problems, legal scholars propose the use of reporting escrows to facilitate coordination among multiple victims of harassment (Ayres and Unkovic, 2012), but little is known about how reporting escrows perform in practice. We collaborate with a worker helpline that serves Bangladesh's apparel sector to study how the availability of a reporting escrow affects the reporting and the incidence of sexual harassment and other forms of workplace misconduct. We experimentally test how theory-driven variations in the escrow's design affects workers' reporting of misbehavior and their well-being.