Academic journal article IUP Journal of Corporate Governance

Examining the Dynamics of Whistleblowing: A Causal Approach

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Corporate Governance

Examining the Dynamics of Whistleblowing: A Causal Approach

Article excerpt


Whistleblowing is essentially the offspring of unethical initiatives, internal or external to an organization. Today, we speak of providing necessary safeguards for whistleblowers, so that it does not spark off those friction between entities in the enterprise. The question that arises subsequently is, why allow colleagues to blow the whistle? The antecedents to whistleblowing could well be nipped in the bud. However, it is easier said than done. In this era of hyper- competition, enterprises are all engaged in a frantic rat race to achieve the summit of success. There being only one peak of the mountain, entities representing organizations often undertake the short-cut avenue to success. This ignites ethical erosion, which spreads like a virus within the organizational milieu. Stringent policies and regulations do play a dominant role in upholding the values and ethical framework of the enterprise, but it must not be forgotten that no rules, regulations or policy implementations can goad an individual to be upright, unless he/she is not internally motivated to be so. We shall, therefore, seek to comprehend the rudiments of whistleblowing from an ethico-moral perspective.

As more and more corporate transgressions are being exposed across the globe, a scant but perennially multiplying league must definitely be acknowledged for bringing such issues to light. Literally, whistleblowing implies the exertion of noise to alert others about immorality. It may be understood as an act which draws attention to illegal activity or any wrongdoing within an organization. The employee (or former employee) of an enterprise divulges what he perceives as unscrupulous or outlawed behavior to higher management (internal whistleblowing) or to an external entity or the populace. Whistleblowers are, therefore, employees who exercise free speech rights to impugn institutional abuses of power or illicitness that betrays public confidence; their disclosures may be made internally or externally, either through the chain of command or extrinsic to that chain. A few strides have been undertaken in categorizing these professed 'truth-tellers', who are oblivious to educational, gender, ethnic, and religious stereotypes. Studies have unfurled that they tend to exhibit optimum assiduousness and do not consciously discredit and jeopardize their canons of morality. The authors, after scanning a host of associated literature, came across an explication which outlines the concept tersely (Calland and Dehn, 2004):

Whistleblowing is now used to describe the options available to an employee to raise concerns about workplace wrongdoing. It refers to the disclosure of wrongdoing that threatens others, rather than a personal grievance. Whistleblowers are the opposite of anonymous informers that authoritarian systems nurture.

Evolutionary Footprints of Whistleblowing

Regarded today as a pivotal tool in maintaining anti-corruption, whistleblowing has been ameliorated and developed over the years. Thirteenth century Great Britain first witnessed the use of Qui Tam, a writ of common law that permits citizens, who assist in the prosecution of corporations and governments (relators), to be awarded a percentage of the recovery and the penalties assessed to the guilty party. In order to enforce the King's Law, Qui Tam was enforced in the American colonies, and in the long run, embraced by the first US Congress.

In 1863, the False Claims Act (FCA) was passed. It was a critical juncture in American history, as the Civil War between the states was being fought then. This American Civil War was fraudulently smeared on all fronts, both in the Union North and the Confederate South. During the war, unscrupulous contractors sold the Union Army decrepit horses and mules, faulty rifles and ammunition, and rancid rations and provisions, among other unscrupulous actions. In response, the Congress passed the False Claims Act on March 2, 1863. …

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