For six years we have traveled throughout the United States, interviewing men and women of conscience who disclosed lawless acts in the workplace. We have also spoken to their husbands and wives who stood by them, to journalists who investigated their stories, to legislators who heard their testimony, and to public-interest activists who defended them in lengthy judicial hearings.
We uncovered the cases presented in this book in several ways. The experiences of a few whistleblowers had been recorded in previous academic studies. Others appeared in journalistic accounts, and the Government Accountability Project, a major whistleblower defense organization in Washington, D.C., recommended a substantial number of ongoing cases. From these sources and from whistleblowers who called us as they learned of our research, we sought to encompass a range of employees in government and industry, including professionals, managers, police, and white-collar and blue-collar workers. As we compared the responses of our group of sixty-four with those reported by other investigators, we confirmed that the experiences reported in this volume are representative of hundreds of other employees who have challenged illegal and unethical behavior in government and corporate organizations.
The whistleblowers were receptive to our request for extended interviews even if it meant recounting the most difficult periods of their lives. They also agreed to our plan to monitor their experiences over a period of time so that we could study the impact of their public disclosure of corrupt practices on their families and careers. We are indebted to them for years of cooperation and for the insights they provided into the possibilities and costs of dissent in a society dominated by large bureaucratic organizations.
The testimony of their spouses was invariably forthcoming, even when it required them to uncover old emotional wounds and relive moments