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Defining Whistle Blowing And The Effects Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 2788 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The political and corporate world today is fraught with many dangers of ethical issues making their ways within the company or that which originate from within the company itself. Part of it can be looked in respect of whistle blowers, and how their presence adds to the innumerable question of ethical issues and ethics being compromised for all the good bad and ugly reasons. In the political or the corporate world, there have been many instance which shows that ethical issue are internal and can expand to the range where the world at large also have an insights. But what brought about internal company or political insights to be disseminated into the big bad world are the presence of whistle blower.

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Objective of the Study

This report is devoted towards an attempt in defining what whistle blowing or whistle blower can mean. It is in other word an extrapolative study into the meaning of ‘whistle blowing’ which is central to the discussion of this report and the subject matter in consideration. In doing so, we feel that understanding the meaning of whistle blowing and its definition in parts would be helpful and act as a basis to reach a conclusion which is conclusive and logical. It should also be clarified that the objective of this work thus is to take an in-depth study into the arguments surrounding the subject matter and its overall discussion in full or parts thereof. In order to come to this term we feel that taking a literature review of the subject matter can be significant and a shift to reach a conclusion that is reasonable, which the following discussion asserts.

The Meaning and Definition of Whistle Blowing

To be correct, whistle blowing is the most widely used keyword in today scenario. People sense of its meaning also have a wrong and misplaced interpretation we believe as to what whistle blowing is all about.

According to scholars, it is said that there is no universally accepted concept of whistle blowing. Some are of the opinion that whistle blowing can mean a factor of illegal reporting. (Lewis, 2001 , p. 1) To be correct, whistle blowing is a slang term. It meaning after all is derived from ‘Blow the Whistle’. (Marek Arszulowicz, 2010 , p. 84) On the other hand, Joseph J. Martocchio (2005) is of the opinion that whistle blowing can mean “the disclosure by the organization members, former or current members, of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to person or organization that may be able to affect action.” (Martocchio, 2005 , p. 100)

Above all, speaking of from a legal perspective whistle blowing as applied to government workers is disclosing information that an employee reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste, gross mismanagement, abuse of power or substantial danger to public in any matter thereof. (Tom Devine, 2011, p. 4) Sunita (2005) though is of the opinion that the meaning behind the idea of whistle blowing is typically to call for attention. (Sunita, 2005 , p. 277) This notion do rings some alarm bell as to what whistle blowing means. As we are conversant, politics breeds where there is individual or groups organization. For that primary reason, the very object of whistle blowing also comes into play. “Whistle blowing might therefore be well classified as a form of occupational suicide – or perhaps as accidental career death.” (Perry, 1998, p. 106) But we wonder what define such instance is based on one reason or the other. Somewhat, it’s like a metaphor which take its course in the social realms of office politics in organizational context.

Moreover, the exact origin and meaning of whistle blowing are uncertain. (Charles E. Harris, 2009 , p. 179)Yet one thing that we can be certain about is that whistle blowing is one practice which is protected by various federal, state and local laws, which means that illegal reporting or misconduct can often attract legal actions subject to proper proof. (Bernardin, 2008, p. 366) These points above give a proper idea as to what whistle blowing can mean and how it is subject to certain regulation and compliance with it. There is rationale behind any instance of a given action. In that sense, we are of the opinions that whistle blowing forms the factor of human rights and it is built on three rationales, namely – truth, self expression and democracy. (Vandekerckhove, 2006 , p. 144) On the contemporary realms as well the very object of whistle blowing and its meaning is a good thing to happen. Yet author such as Ronald F. Duska (2007) feels that “whistle blowing arise in time of defense and there was something wrong with it, which make it look like an act of disloyalty.” (Duska, 2007 , p. 140)

Thus, taking into account all these scholastic point and its contradicting term and meaning of it, we feel that whistle blowing defines a broad arena where ethics, disloyalty and acts of misdeeds is not an acceptable term in the political, social and corporate world. This is true we feel. In a democracy, there should be every ideal which directly deals with any acts of dishonesty and illegal activity that compromise the ethics of an organization or groups of organization. Whistle blowing is the public disclosure by a person working within an organization, or acts, omission, practices or policies perceived as morally wrong by that persona and is a disclosure regarded as wrongful by the organization authorities.” (Marcel Boyer, 2006 , p. 111)To top it all, the commonly accepted meaning of whistle blowing from an organizational point of view is that “whistle blowing involves an employee bringing into the public arena acts that the organization would prefer to keep hidden. (Martin, 2005 , p. 489) Hence, what we can sum up to the definition of whistle blowing is that “whistle blowing and the act behind it have been viewed as one way to control corruption and frauds in organizations assert Viswesvaram (2005)” (Ronald J. Burke, 2009 , p. 19) we can arrive at a conclusion that whistle blowing is an act and action of a whistle blower to convey, disseminate and disclose information that can either be illegal or legally blended as a basis to being about a change to any moral discourse and its happening within an organizational setup. “Probably, all whistle blowing is viewed as anti-social by some observer.” (Robert A. Giacalone, 1997 , p. 132) How true this stamen and its contradiction facts stands as to what define whistle blowing is subject to debate. However, looking at the theory of whistle blowing can be viable for that reason and prudent which is discussed below.

Theory A: Organizational Context of Whistle Blowing

According to recent research and studies, there have been instance in which it is held that whistle blower disclose information about organization dysfunction to persons or organization who may be able to address the problem. Whistle blowing theory thus take into account the factor of productivity or any other mismanagement issue within the organization either because whistle blower themselves ‘lack the power and authority’ to handle any such situation that arise within the organization realms. Therefore a whistle blower and some of their acts or action for that matter is to be bring to fore and to garner an ‘appeal to someone of greater power or authority’, a basis we believe which would bring about a situation being addressed. (Dorothy E. Leidner, 2008, p. 77)

This is one theory of whistle blowing as we can relate to in context of organization realms. Thus whistle blowing situation arise mainly for one reason or the other, it can either be the factor of lack of organization culture, productivity of workforce, resource allocation and its use by organizational leadership or any other factor that are a subject of change and which ought to be addressed one or the other ways.

Theory B: Motivational Conflicts of Whistle Blowing

According to scholars, they found that “wrong doing seriousness is either associated with whistle blowing in general, and that the most serious wrong doing was reported to external parties, (Marcia P. Miceli, 1992 , p. 139 ) says Micelli and Near (1985) This theoretical interpretation leads the way to define what is all about that conflict which lead the way to whistle blowing?

Studies have shown that whistle blowing can either take turns in context of serious or anonymous whistle blowing. Group members who believe that observers are responsible for reporting wrongdoing but that the organization would take actions in the later stages against whistle blowers and such belief in any instance lead the way to motivational conflicts. (Marcia P. Miceli, 1992 , p. 140 ) In other word, such instance put whistle blower at a tight spot whether to disclose or not to disclose any misdeed and wrong doing on the part of one party or the organization. Thus the factor of such motivational conflict of whistle blowing can be looked in respect of internal and external reporting.

Theory C: Professional Conduct and its Compliance

There is no denying that organizational realms breeds the way for rules and regulation to be followed with strictly. Thus, instances such as “compliance with professional standards and whistle blowing on bad practices” (Barbara Mitchels, 2010 , p. 21) within an organizational context often lead the way to ethical issue and its consideration. If in case such a situation arise to whistle blowing, the very object of morality, ethics and law meets and sometime the boundary between them also seems to be unclear because compliance with professional standards roots the way for whistle blower to judge the situation or any. And there is every point to believe that no professional would be happy enough about reporting the bad practices or professional misconduct of another party, or team members. Although there are situation which make it necessary that whistle blowing is the need to streamline the process of maintaining a good professional practices and often can be permitted within an organizational realms as a basis to being good conduct of professional discourse and its debate. (Barbara Mitchels, 2010 , p. 21)

Whistle Blowing: Current Debate and its Consensus

There are various debates making the rounds when it comes to whistle blowing and the object of it. Some are of the opinion that whistle blowing is good, while pothers are of the opinion that whistle blowing is an immoral act. Paul Williams (2009) is of the opinion that integrating ethics is the core basis of any organizational undertaking, be it at the management level, factor of marketing or process formulation and its undertaking. We are of the assumption that legal and ethical norms and the gap in between is small, yet on a broader look we can see that ethical practices have been a subject of debate when it comes to business practices, organizational social responsibilities, or human rights and its dispute, truth in marketing and whistle blowing for instance. (William, 2006 , p. 349) On the other hand, there are laws which encourage whistle blowing as a factor to facilitate public interest disclosure. (Brown, 2008 , p. 8) Besides, we feel that public disclosure of information as a reason behind it. So we think that whistle blowing is right and correct to bring to the notice of the world. One example of it can be looked in context of journalism and their role in it. The origination of Wiki-Leaks was not a coincidence to attract publicity, but a factor which is important for social discourse and the functioning of its machinery in the ethical way.

Above all reasons, an exploration into the components of whistle blowing within the organizational realms also reveals many intriguing facts. We believe that at the root of whistle blowing situation in organizational context there is a high level of moral consideration and its responsibility as well as the guts of individual to blow the whistle due to their concern for the organization or the society at large. (Krishnan) To top it all, whistle blowing can be seen as an act of defense for proper action for any misconduct. Whistle blowing thus can be looked as an instance of public interest and a whistle blower is a concerned citizen totally or predominantly motivated by notion of public interest. (Lewis, 2001 , p. 1) However, there are certain things which define whistle blowing in the right context. For instance whistle blower who reported wrong doing within an organization, but informed no outside authority is not really a whistle blower. (Martocchio, 2005 , p. 100) Thus classification as to what is whistle blowing and a whistle blower, which also acts as a basis to understand the pro and cons of whistle blowing and its debate in the academic, political and corporate arena.

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Whistle Blowing: Functional Debate

In recent time, the originations of Wiki-Leaks also have given a new dimension as to what whistle blowing can mean and how far journalism can take its tread to define the very aspects of the social conditioning and its discourse when it comes to the ethical and unethical issue within and outside the company or organizational realms.

This posed many question and less answers to be correct when it comes to whistle blowing and its subject debate and its discourse that reflect the realms of business ethics, professional conduct and sense of duty. Dishonesty and ethics being compromised is not a new thing at all. Such a situation for that matter leaves groups and individual within an organization with little choice to tolerate instance of dishonesty or ethics being compromised, which breeds the very object of whistle blowers. Fact of the matter is that whistle blower can either be bad or good. Yet we feel that there is a valid reason for it as well.

Interpreting Whistle Blowing: Unanswered Concern

Moreover, whistle blowing may have both short and long-term consequences for individuals, groups, organizations and society at larger. Hence, unanswered question that arise can be looked in context that whistle blower may experience certain retaliation or they can totally be ignored. Besides, it can also engender increased societal trust in organization. On the other hand, organizational effectiveness also can be linked to acts of whistle blowing. (Marcia P. Miceli, 1992 ) These are some of the unanswered question and concern as to what whistle blowing can relate to.

Summary: Hypothesis

Many scholars believe that there is no universal acceptance of whistle blowing. Some theories for that matter are as awkward as it appears as well. We are of the opinion that behind any visible acts of whistle blowing there is an ethical theory at play. By ethical we mean the moral jurisdiction as to what defines the good and bad aspects of any actions being undertaken such as disclosure of internal organizational information.

In that reasoning, question also arises naturally:

What lead the way for whistle blowing situation to arise? Does ethics, moral beliefs and sense of guilt’s forms the basis of it within the organizational realms?

What does it mean when the information disclosed to the public is classified? If such is the case does not the essential of fraud come into play? We feel that behind every whistle blowing acts there is a moral action at play as well. Yet this is subject to debate as well.

What is the moral obligations that whistle blower and theirs action justifies to the organization, third party or the society at large? And finally,

What are the long-term and short-term consequences as a factor of whistle blowing making inroads into the organizational realms and its culture?


From our study and successive literature review we can understand as to what defines whistle blowing and its components. We can conclude that the presence of whistle blower within the company and its functionary mechanism also cannot be sided apart. This posed many danger and innumerable ethical issues being raised in the current scenario. Whistle blowers have been known to be present in every organization. There is no denying this fact. However, we can’t be subjective to reach such a conclusion. Hence, the subject matter debate for future research in context of the above hypotheses listen can be ample to explore and examine the dominion of whistle blowing and its discourse.


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