Whistle Blowing Policy

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Whistle Blowing Policy

Whistle Blowing Policy

Introduction: Whistle-blowing

Whistle-blowing has been defined as "the disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal, immoral, or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action" (Near & Miceli, 1985: 4). In keeping with previous research (Near & Miceli, 1985), hereinafter terms such as wrongful activity and questionable practice refer to omissions as well as commissions, for example, when an organization fails to warn employees of workplace hazards.

Effectiveness of Whistle-blowing

The effectiveness of whistle-blowing may be defined in a variety of ways. Legal scholars tend to define the effectiveness of the outcome in terms of the wini' loss ratio of lawsuits entered by whistle-blowers. Our interest is primarily in whether the whistle- blower accomplished what she or he set out to accomplish-namely, the implementation of organizational change as opposed to obtaining a judgment. Therefore, we define the effectiveness of whistle-blowing as the extent to which the questionable or wrongful practice (or omission) is terminated at least partly because of whistle-blowing and within a reasonable time frame.

Elements Involved in the Organizational Response to Whistle-blowers

In much of the research concerning organizational response to whistle-blowers, scholars have referred to "organizational response," as though it were an integrated and coherent response to the whistle-blower by all members of the organization (Farrell & Petersen, 1982). How- ever, most whistle-blowers encounter a variety of responses within their organizations; for example, some coworkers express support, whereas others avoid the whistle-blower because they fear that management will retaliate against anyone associating with the whistle-blower (Miceli & Near, 1992). Other parties to the process include the wrongdoers, who sometimes can be identified as specific persons; complaint recipients inside or outside the organization; the whistle-blower's immediate super- visor; and the dominant coalition, operationalized in many studies as the top management team (Michel & Hambrick, 1992).

Parties outside the organization-besides the complaint recipient notably professional colleagues or family members and friends, also may react. We focus here primarily on the reactions of organization members, for three reasons. First, family members and friends generally are supportive of the whistle-blower (Miceli & Near, 1992). Second, members of the organization may have both substantial reason to react negatively to the complaint and the power to hurt the whistle-blower professionally or otherwise. Third, organizational recourse generally would not be avail- able for responses to the reactions of persons outside the organization (with some exceptions, such as customers who harass employees). In our model we have focused on the key social actors in the process (the whistle-blower, the complaint recipient, and the wrongdoer), the organization as a whole, and the wrongdoing that is perceived.


Theoretical Framework of the Model Whistle-blowing represents an influence process: An organization member attempts to exert power to change the behavior of some member(s) of the organization. Indeed, empirical evidence suggests that whistle-blowers considered themselves effective when they thought they had changed management's attitudes-even if they suffered retaliation in ...
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