When Do We Blow the Whistle?

Listen to this postWhen we notice something that we think is unlawful or unethical at work we have to investigate its integrity. We should also investigate why the employer would do unlawful or unethical act. Whistle-blowers sometimes blow their whistles too early and get themselves in trouble. Whistle blowing is ” 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” (Peeples, Stokes, & Wingfield, 2009, p. 468).

Miceli and Near (2002) stated that the wrongdoing would be terminated when it is less serious or deeply rooted. Whistle blowing can be more effective if the whistle –blower have power and can communicate to the right people (Miceli & Near, 2002). A single incident like overhearing a supervisor or noticing a violation by the organization might not be worth reporting, although we are obligated ethically to report it. Understanding the reason for the unlawful or wrongdoing would help the whistle-blower to find alternative solutions or means to do the same job without violations.

Good reasons for whistle-blowing would be increasing safety, stopping wrongdoing, receiving monetary rewards, and eliminating perceived injustice (Peeples, et al., 2009). The whistle-blowing is an act of loyalty to the employer because it will benefit the employer in correcting the wrongdoing or improve the workplace safety and general condition. But, the whistle-blower should do that after exhausting all means to correct the wrongdoing by using internal means. The whistle-blower should balance his decision by weighing the severity of the act, the motive of the wrongdoer and the degrees of control assigned to the wrongdoer (Peeples, et al., 2009). The US Department of Labor estimated that only15% of the whistle-blowing cases have value,  and 85% of the whistle-blowers incurred high costs for their decision to blow the whistle (Peeples, et al., 2009).
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References:

Miceli, M. P., & Near, J. P. (2002). What makes whistle-blowers effective? Three field studies. [Article]. Human Relations, 55(4), 455.

Peeples, D. K., Stokes, P., & Wingfield, S. S. (2009). When the whistle is blown: Legal defenses and practical guidelines for managing reports of organizational misconduct. [Article]. Business & Society, 48(4), 467-488.

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About Sami Malallah
My thoughts and ideas are without politics, sarcasm or negativity. Please comment on them and share them with others.

11 Responses to When Do We Blow the Whistle?

  1. iqbalgreen says:

    Useful , thank you . We need whistle-blower in all fields of life .

    • Iqbal Malallah says:

      It’s me Sami not anonymous , who ask the question !!

  2. The sad fact that most of the whistle-blowers did not achieve their target and have been kicked out of their jobs and had difficulty getting another job.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mmmmmmmm !!!! . OK then , why there are whistle-blowers ( in the first place ) in works , if they know that they are going to be kicked out of their jobs ?

    • Not all whistle-blowers blown their whistle at the right time or place. Some of the whistle-blowers did not have enough prove to support their clams. A Canadian doctor claimed that his patients were having cancer because of the nearby tar extraction process. Tar sand is a profitable business in Canada where specialized companies extract tar form the sand and refine it for hydro-carbonic products. A Medical doctor claimed that his patients medical conditions were affected by this tar extraction operation, but he failed to produce an evidence, like patient records, to support his allegation (Shuchman, 2008). Tariman (2007) state that Sarbanes-Oxley whistle-blower protections are not effective or strong enough to protect or encourage the whistle-blowing employees (Tariman, 2007).

      Shuchman, M. (2008). Medical whistle-blower protection lacking. [Article]. CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 178(12), 1529-1529. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.080694
      Tariman, J. D. (2007). When should you blow the whistle for ethical reasons? [Article]. ONS Connect, 22(2), 22-23.

  4. Whistle-blowers are employees who will not the accept the wrongdoing, but as you know that the insiders do not like the whistle-blowers because they will expose them. The exposed people would cover up what they have done and then attach the whistle-blower. The Whistle-blower had to be sure of what he/she is doing and should have enough prove of the wrongdoing.

  5. Bu Yousef says:

    Like everything that’s good for us, it requires maturity. We are very immature in our actions – and even more so in our reactions. This will take time. A LONG TIME!

    • You are right Bu-Yousef, we are far away from such ethical maturity, but one can hope for the best. Through my 30 year of professional career I have witnessed one whistle-blower and unfortunately, he needed psychological help.

      • Bu Yousef says:

        Doh!

  6. Khaled Al-ALi says:

    I don’t think organizations should encourage whistle-blowers, but to accept it in a very limited cases.
    General speaking, people don’t intend to make mistakes however if a mistake happens, it is most likely due to a defective procedures, a defective quality system and/ or incompetency. Therefore a mistake must be looked at as an opportunity to identify a defect and to improve.
    Accordingly organizations are to encourage mistake (defect) reporting by staff. And that is one of the principles of a learning organizations (peter Singe).
    But in the case of catching a staff deliberately making a problem, then it is better for the witness to try to talk to that staff to stop the damage and report it instead of the witness reporting it.

    • You are right, but whistle-blowers are mostly employees who notice wrongdoing like bribery, stealing, violating state regulation deliberately, or unethical act. These situations are not good learning experiences similar to what Peter talk about in his famous book.

      Regards,

      Sami Malallah Sent from my iPhone

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