The Prevalence of Whistleblowing in Organizations

The Prevalence of Whistleblowing in Organizations

Length: 1606 words (4.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
History of Whistleblowing
The definition of a whistleblower is a past or pesent employee or member of an organization, who reports misconduct to people or entities that have the power and presumed willingness to take corrective action, or to notify the general public of wrongdoing. In most cases, whistleblowers are employees of the ogranization but can be employees of government agencies as well. Normally the misconduct being reported is a violation of law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest such as fraud, health, safety violations, and corruption. The word whistleblower originates from the old practice of English bobbies who would blow their whistle when they noticed a crime that was being committed. The blowing of the whistle would alert both law enforcement officers and the general public of danger. (Wikipedia, 2007).
Whistleblowing is not something that is new to today’s modern business world, however, it has grown so much that there is much more impact to all parties involved including the whistleblower. Depending on the magnitue of the misconduct being reported, it will not only change the company and the whistleblower, but also may change the society and how it views different businesses or business in general. Although whistleblowing is not new, the modern day attitude towards it has changed greatly. Before the 1960s, corporations had broad freedom in employee policies and could fire an employee at will, even if no reason existed. Employees of organizations were expected to be loyal to their organizations at all costs. Among the few exceptions to this rule were unionized employees, who could only be terminated for "just cause," and government employees because the courts upheld their constitutional right to criticize agency policies. In the private industry, few real procedures for airing grievances existed. Partly because of this lack of protection for whistleblowers, problems were often hidden rather than solved. Probably the most atrocious example was in asbestos manufacturing, where the link to lung disease was clearly established as early as 1924 but actively hidden by company officials from the public and other agencies. The first product liability lawsuit against an asbestos manufacturer was not successfully publicized until 1971.
In the 1970s, there were many memorable cases where potential whistleblowers decided not to act and ended up causing serious harm to employees and consumers alike, as well as the organizations as soon as the information went public that they had known of potential dangers.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Prevalence of Whistleblowing in Organizations." 21 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Ethical Issue Of Whistleblowing Essay

- Professional in large organization: Loyalty, dissent, and whistleblowing People have a moral obligation to prevent serious harm to the public that might come with little cost or at a cost of their professional career. Whistleblowing is an act of expressing misconduct, alleged dishonesty or illegal activities either within an organization or publicly by an individual or a group. In an organization, there are different sectors that perform their specific tasks. As a human, we all have a moral obligation to act on behalf of public good whether we are professionals or not....   [tags: Decision making, Ethics, Morality, Decision theory]

Research Papers
1362 words (3.9 pages)

The Effectiveness of Whistleblowing Essay

- Our country was built on the underdog story, of standing strong in the face of hopelessness against Great Britain. Nearly 250 years later, this mentality still stands. The “American Dream” is alive and well, or so we like to believe. If the little guy works just a little bit harder, one day he can ascend through the ranks and become president. This is our mythology, our creed, the beliefs that we as a people have adopted in the place of religion. It is easy to see, then, why we as a people believe in the whistleblower, the powerless man taking a stand against injustice in an organization....   [tags: the american dream, injustice, corruption]

Research Papers
886 words (2.5 pages)

Professional Organizations : Professional Organisations Essay

- Professional Organisations Having an understanding of professional organisations can help a manager effectively manage dire situations or reactions from staff. As Shell (2003) explained professionals are a different group of people, they are experts in their own field giving them expert power and therefore must be managed differently. Professionals are highly autonomous therefore they expect a high degree of control and the freedom to exercise their independent professional judgements. They act to serve their own primary interest, and not necessary the organisation’s....   [tags: Management, Organization, Organizational studies]

Research Papers
880 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on The 's Opinion On Whistleblowing

- 1) Compare and Contrast • a. Maggie Severns’ opinion on whistleblowing is that the people involved are just trying to better the government. Severns states in her interview that there are different types of whistleblowing, and that “data dumps” are not the best way to ensure an effective government, or to make the difference intended. Also, in the interview Severns states that anonymity in whistleblowing makes it less effective, since there needs to be a face attached to the situation to make people remember....   [tags: First Amendment to the United States Constitution]

Research Papers
1053 words (3 pages)

Whistleblowing in The Medical Community Essay

- Bouville (2008) describes whistleblowing as an act for an employee of revealing what he believes to be unethical or described as an illegal behaviour to a higher management (internal whistleblowing) or to an external authority or the public (external whistleblowing). Whistle-blowers are often seen as traitors to an organisation as they are considered to have violated the loyalty terms of that organisation while some are described as heroes that defend the values and ethics of humanity rather than loyalty to their company....   [tags: unethical, illegal behavior]

Research Papers
1325 words (3.8 pages)

The Prevalence And Prevalence Of Depression Essay

- “Contemporary literature has identified the increasing incidence and prevalence of depression in Australia”. Based on this statement there is a true public perception on the illness that depression is growing larger and widespread into the future generations of Australia. The statistical data proves that the incidence rates are increasing due to early diagnosis and intervention of depression. There is a greater prevalence due to more people being treated which is a time consuming process. However, it is still inconclusive about the changes of prevalence and incidence considering the population is constantly changing....   [tags: Suicide, Mental disorder]

Research Papers
1683 words (4.8 pages)

Faith Based Organizations in Zimbabwe Essay

- Gerard Clarke and Michael Jennings (2008: 6) define FBO as “any organization that derives inspiration and guidance for its activities from the teachings and principles of the faith or from a particular interpretation or school of thought within the faith” . In short basically FBOs are directly indirectly religiously tied organisations. FBOs also differ in terms of the kind of approach they have towards development and the ways in which they view what people need in order to live a dignified life....   [tags: Non Governmental Organisations]

Research Papers
2917 words (8.3 pages)

Whistleblowing Essay

- Sharon Watkins earned her 15 minutes of fame the honest way, as the Enron employee who blew the lid off of then CEO Ken Lay's debauchery. But for every celebrated whistleblower, there are hundreds who remain in the shadows. And for good Samaritans who do tell their tale, the price they pay can be exorbitant. Whistleblowers perform in many careers and are found at all levels of an organization: scientists and secretaries, lawyers and paralegals, managers and staff, security personnel and computer specialists, etc....   [tags: Business whistleblowers]

Research Papers
1770 words (5.1 pages)

Professional Organizations & Associations Essay

- In today’s society it is not always what you know, but who you know. It is never a bad idea to join a professional organization and or association. The key is to find the right one for you and your needs. According to, “A professional organization is formed to disseminate information and unite people who share the same occupation or common interests.” Professional Organizations can also be classified as any social arrangement that has the same aims, aspirations, and goals. A professional organization on the other hand, is usually a non-profit group that helps further awareness and goals of a specific profession according to   [tags: Professional Organizations]

Research Papers
1069 words (3.1 pages)

Whistleblowing Essay

- Whistle blowing Whistle blowing is an attempt of an employee or former employee of a company to reveal what he or she believes to be a wrongdoing in or by a company or organization. Whistle blowing tries to make others aware of practices that are considered illegal or immoral. If the wrongdoing is reported to someone in the company it is said to be internal. Internal whistle blowing tends to do less damage to the company. There is also external whistle blowing. This is where the wrongdoing is reported to the media and brought to the attention of the public....   [tags: Business]

Free Essays
1148 words (3.3 pages)

Alan Westin, Henry Kurtz, and Albert Robbins wrote a book called “Whistleblowing” that looked at many of these cases where potential whistleblowers decided to keep silent and ended up failing to prevent much damage to consumers. Sometimes a whistleblower acts only to have their notification go in one ear and out the other. Such a case is the Firestone disaster that occurred in the 1970s. In 1972, Firestone Tire Director of Development Thomas A. Robertson sent top management a memo warning that the “500” tire was inferior and subject to belt-edge separation at high speeds. His warning was ignored despite reports about poor performance from major customers such as General Motors, and the “500” tire was kept on the market. By the time Time magazine reported that accidents caused by blowouts had resulted in more than 41 deaths and hundreds of serious injuries, the company had already replaced 3 million tires and spent millions of dollars in personal injury lawsuits. If Robertson had received an internal hearing or blown the whistle externally, such disasters for the public and the company could have been avoided. (Ravishankar, Lilanthi)
Not all whistleblowing opportunities have turned out to be negative to the public. Take the following example where whistleblowing helped change an industry. In this example, an internal employee knew that the company he worked for was pushing a product that did not do what it was advertised to do. David Franklin, a former Parke-Davis employee who exposed illegal marketing of Neurontin, an epilepsy drug, for relieving pain, headaches, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric illnesses. This case showed that the company marketed the drug for these illnesses while withholding evidence that the drug was not effective for these illnesses. After initially denying any wrongdoing, Pfizer plead guilty to criminal violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act and paid criminal and civil fines of $430 million dollars. This case has opened a unique window into pharmaceutical industry practices through the achieving and study of documents by UCSF obtained by Franklin’s attorney Thomas Greene. The Franklin v. Pfizer case was unique in a number of ways: it was the largest settlement obtained for U.S. taxpayers in a case not joined by the Department of Justice, it established a new standard of accountability for pharmaceutical industry marketing practices, it broadened the use of the False Claims Act to include fraudulent marketing claims (not just financial fraud) as criminal violations of federal and state law, it revealed the involvement, complicity and active participation in fraud by many renowned physicians, and it demonstrated that the medical literature which is the foundation for medical practice and particularly off-label prescribing by physicians has been deeply adulterated by the pharmaceutical industry and its paid clinical consultants. Franklin v. Pfizer showed that pharmaceutical control of the healthcare system, including doctors and pharmacists resulted in a high number of patients (not just Medicare/Medicaid) paying a great deal of money (Neurontin sales were $2.2 billion in 2004) for a drug that did nothing to help their illness. (Wikipedia, 2007)
Whistleblowing Today
Why does an individual decide to blow the whistle at a company? There are a multitude of reasons. An individual may know the law is being broken, or that the actions of the organization are going to hurt others. In some cases no laws are being broken, but the organization is turning a blind eye to harmful acts. Some whistleblowers do not work within the organization they are reporting on. Some whistleblowers are investigators who bring to light what others in the organization know and may be afraid to tell. Legislation has been created throughout the years to help better protect whistleblowers and encourage them to report any wrongdoing to the proper authorities.
In the late 1970s, legislation was developed and federal and state laws were enacted to protect employees in private industry. The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 extended protections through the Merit Systems Protection Board and increased the authority of the Office of Special Counsel created in 1979. These laws protect disclosure of information as well as a government employee's refusal to participate in wrongful activities at work. In the 1980s, states began to provide whistleblower protection to employees as a result of the erosion of the at-will employment doctrine, which until very recently meant that private, non-unionized employees could be fired for any reason, including blowing the whistle. Currently, only 15 states do not provide whistleblower protection. With the enactment of the Sarbanes-Oxley Corporate Reform Act of 2002, internal and external whistleblower protection has been extended to all employees in publicly traded companies for the first time. The creation of this act has created an environment in which many organizations have realized the importance of instituting ethics policies and codes of conduct to address issues related to unethical or illegal conduct. The business climate in the wake of Enron and WorldCom, coupled with Sarbanes-Oxley, is one in which employees have more power report ethical or legal violations.
Even though legal protection exists to any person who decides to blow the whistle, it does not protect them in all other areas outside the legal realm. Although some whistleblowers are seen as “saviors” by the public, in the eyes of their coworkers and others they may be viewed as a snitch who is looking for personal gain. Because of this skewed thinking, whistleblowers may well encounter difficulties when they appeal internally or go public with information that may damage their companies. These people are doing so much to help protect the public, yet they are then discriminated against for their actions. Most have a difficult life after they make the decision to go public with the information that they know despite the laws protecting them.
Whistleblowing is becoming more important everyday in today’s business world due to the great power this process contains. Due to the increased number of misconducts by organizations in the recent past, whistleblowing incidents have been on the rise. This trend is likely to be bolstered by the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which for the first time, accords legal protections to whistleblowers in publicly traded companies. Whistleblowing is good for society because it can help prevent different issues such as safety, health, or corruption in companies. It is sad, but the whistleblowers, even with legal protection, are not protected from coworkers or others views or even harassment when an issue is reported. However, as whistleblowing becomes more prevalent and accepted in our society and other societies, and newer managers are trained to understand whistleblowing policies and procedures, whistleblowers should see less harassment than they do today. In the long run, whistleblowing is good because it holds business accountable in areas where they have not always been accountable before.


Wikipedia (2007) Whistleblower. Wikipedia,

Guttman, Reuben A., Lugbill, Ann, Murphy, Mark The Law: An Overview
False Claims Act Whistleblower Employee Protections.,

Ravishankar, Lilanthi Encouraging Internal Whistleblowing in Organizations.

Miethe, Terance D. Whistleblowing at Work: Tough Choices in Exposing Fraud, Waste and Abuse on the Job. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1999.

Lawrence and Weber, Business and Society Stakeholders, Ethics, and Public Policy, 12 Edition, 2007.

Wines, William, Ethics, Law, and Business, 1st Edition, 2006
Return to