Blowing the Whistle: The Organizational and Legal Implications for Companies and Employees
Whistle-blowing occurs in all types of organizations and in response to many kinds of wrongdoing. Whistle-blowers can increase the safety and effectiveness of their organization, boost employee morale, prevent escalation of wrongdoing, and help their organization avoid litigation and legal regulation. On the other hand, they can undermine the legitimate management of their organization, subject the firm to public scandal and huge lawsuits, and even threaten its very survival. In providing an authoritative review of the theories and implications of whistle-blowing, Marcia P. Miceli and Janet P. Near explain the many reasons some individuals decide to "turn in" their companies, why some organizations seem prone to whistle-blowing, and how to prevent the problems that lead to it. They identify the common traits of whistle-blowers and the organizations in which they are active, demonstrating that, contrary to popular ideas, whistle-blowers are generally not disgruntled underperformers or former employees. They are more often highly satisfied, well paid, high-performing workers, and are likely to be older, better educated, and to have worked for the organization for a long time. Miceli and Near assert that no organization should strive to be free of whistle-blowers. Since wrongdoing is inevitable in any organization, they argue, so is the need for whistle-blowers. As preventive measures, organizations should develop "living" codes of conduct, train employees to deter wrongdoing, and provide rewards for ethical behavior. The authors encourage speedy, impartial internal complaint procedures with designated complaint recipients, and swift corrective measures once wrongdoing is identified.Whistle-blowers should be kept informed of the investigation into their charges, and rewarded rather than punished for their actions. And to assure that whistle-blowers aren't being unjustly terminated, all firings should be reviewed by an impartial authority. Blowing the Whistle, with its extensive empirical research, will be an important volume for academics in management, human resources, and organizational psychology. Managers will find the material on the practical and legal implications of whistle-blowing helpful in responding to their employees' complaints and in curtailing wrongdoing. And for those employees who are contemplating sounding the alarm on their organizations, Miceli and Near offer guidelines on how whistle-blowers can enhance their effectiveness and avoid retaliation.
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