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Whistleblowing

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Whistleblowing: Necessary Evil or Good Thing
Maureen Haley
University of North Carolina – Asheville
April 16, 2014

This paper was prepared for Management 484-001, taught by Professor Donald D. Lisnerski

Whistleblowing: Necessary Evil or Good Thing
Is whistleblowing a necessary evil or good thing? Can whistleblowing be avoided? Can the whistleblower be protected? “A whistleblower is an employee who discovers corporate misconduct and chooses to bring it to the attention of others.”(Ghillyer, 2014) Whistleblowers can be viewed as providing a praiseworthy act or be severely labeled as informers who have breached the loyalty of their co-workers and company. Whistleblowing can be a service to the community and public. Whistleblowing can be ethical or unethical, and the whistleblower discovering corporate misconduct has the options to be an internal or an external whistleblower. Whistleblowing can save people’s lives. Dr. Jeffrey Wigand made the decision to go public with information that his employer Brown & Williamson (B&W) was manipulating the nicotine content, suppressed efforts to develop safer cigarettes, and lied about the addictive properties of nicotine. According to Sissela Bok, in the book Taking Sides: Clashing views in Business Ethics and Society, “not only is loyalty violated in whistleblowing, hierarchy as well is often opposed, since the whistleblower is not only a colleague but a subordinate. Though aware of the risks inherent in such disobedience, he often hopes to keep his job.” (Newton, Englehardt, & Pritchard, 2012).
Whistleblowing is ethical when the company through a product or decision will cause serious harm to the public. Whistleblowing is unethical when there is evidence that the employee is motivated by financial gain, media attention, or has a grudge against the company. An example of when it is ethical to be a whistleblower is when the employee’s immediate manager does not act, and the employee exhausted the internal chain and the board of directors. .Sharon Watkins, vice president of Enron in 2001 wrote two emails to the chairman of Enron stating “that is only a matter of time before the company’s creative accounting treatment would be discovered, and bring the entire organization down.” (Ghillyer, 2014).
Whistleblowers need legal protection. Whistleblowing is dangerous and organizations and people should try to get the benefits of whistleblowing without having to pay an enormous price. “Whether you believe whistleblowers to be heroes who face considerable personal hardship to bring the harsh light of media attention to the unethical behavior, or you take the opposing view that they are breaking the oath of loyalty to their employer, the fact remains that employees are becoming increasing willing to respond to any questionable behavior they observe in the workplace.” (Ghillyer, 2014)
There have been quite a few historic whistleblowers in the United States who felt that had a duty to respond. The movie industry portrayed many employee good guys against the company bad guys. The films such as The China Syndrome, Silkwood, On the Waterfront, Erin Brockovich, The Harder They Fall, Serpico, All the President's Men, Prince of the City, The Firm, The Insider, The Constant Gardener, North Country, Michael Clayton, Semper Fi: Always Faithful, and We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks are based on true and heart wrenching whistleblowing stories.
Whistleblowing interests me because the world can be a hard place and being a whistleblower is difficult on the person and the organization. Whistleblowing encourages the truth for consumer safety and health. The whistleblower faces many risks: they can lose their source of income and insurance, there is emotional and mental cost to the whistleblower and family, friends may snub you and other may retaliate. Whistleblowers pay a high price, and we all need to care about whistleblowing: how to not blame the messenger, how to help individuals and organizations avoid whistleblowing.
Literature Review
In Alford, C. F. (2000) researched many whistleblower stories, attended retreats, and support groups for whistleblowers. Alford reported that most whistleblowing research is on whistleblowers who have strong morals and stand up for what is true. They suffer retaliation and while some are vindicated other are not. But even for the whistleblowers who in the end are not successful, they know they did the right thing. They are glad they reported unethical behavior and feel better for the experience even though they suffered great personal lost. But almost all would do it again. Alford reported on whistleblowers who are mentally and spiritually broken, and if they had to do it again they might not blow the whistle. Some were unsure whether they would either speak up again or just stroke out. The article reveals valuable information about how the whistleblower feels, if they would do it again, and their trials and tribulations. Consider the case of John Brown; he wouldn’t blow the whistle for a million dollars. His life was ruined. He lost his job, house and family. He doesn’t even get to see his kids.
Health
Leanne's (1993) article reviewed the health effects on whistleblowers. Twenty-five men and 10 women from various occupations were surveyed. They had exposed corruption or danger to the public. All subjects in this non-random sample had suffered adverse consequences. There were 25 men and 10 women from several states. Two were under 35 years of age; 22 were between 35 and 50; and the rest were over 50. They all started by making their complaint internally and went through the proper channels. Retaliation for 29 people started immediately after their first internal complaint. The media was approached by 17. Eight were dismissed and 10 were demoted, 10 resigned or took early retirement because of ill health related to victimization “Long term relationships broke up in seven cases, and 60 of the 77 children of 30 subjects were adversely affected. Twenty nine subjects had a mean of 5. 3stress related symptoms initially, with a mean of 3.6 still present. Fifteen were prescribed long term treatment with drugs which they had not been prescribed before. Seventeen had considered suicide. Income had been reduced by three quarters or more for 14 subjects. Total financial loss was estimated in hundreds of thousands of Australian dollars in 17. Whistleblowers received little or no help from statutory authorities and only a modest amount from workmates. (Leanne'1993). Whistleblowing is important in protection society, but it causes long-lasting health, financial and personal hardships.
Protection
In Feliu, A. G (1983) research the fact in over two decades not much has changed in protection of the whistleblower. Legal protection exists for whistleblowers but it depends on whether the employee works in the public or private sector. The dated article shows that not much has changed for the employee who puts the public interest and welfare before that of the employer. In this case much protection is still needed for the whistleblower.
Regarding Medland’s (2013) research on how whistleblowing changed the life of Paul Moore, former group head of regulatory risk at HBOS, the banking group. Mr. Moor alerted the HBOS board to the bank’s excessive risk taking which he said could lead to disaster. He lost his job, and has hardly worked since. According to Mr. Moore "whistleblowing is a label few individuals would willingly assume - yet the benefits to businesses and society from the actions of such individuals can be immense in revealing potentially disastrous mistakes and wrongdoing. Mr. Moore feels that you should be able to go the press immediately and be granted anonymity. Instead he went home to his wife and cried. He received support from his wife who said “Don't worry, it will be all right. It's all part of God's plan. Without her I would be dead." Medland’s (2013)
In Westman, D. P. (2005) article contributes to whistleblowing research by discussing the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. The article gives useful information on the significance that the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower provisions are "affecting the development of state law, and how those provisions are influencing corporate governance practice," (Westman, D. P. (2005). The whistleblowing research on how to encourage employee whistleblowing in the financial world, and we might have fewer En-ron, WorldCom, and the like.
Definitions
In further support research found in Ghillyer's (2014) book Chapter 8, pages 138-155 very helpful by explaining: whistleblowing, internal and external whistleblowing, different motivations of a whistleblower, and the consequences of ignoring the concerns of a whistleblower. Ghillyer explained the how the employers need knowledge on how to build internal policies and initiatives for the whistleblower.
External & Internal Whistleblowing
Sims, R. L., & Keenan, J. P. (1998) this research attempts to predict the decision to be a whistleblower using organizational and intrapersonal variables. “External whistleblowing was not found to be significantly predicted by formal policies, organizational tenure, age, education, satisfaction, or commitment. (Sims et al 1998) Based upon the research, managers who listened carefully and respectfully can expect to encourage more openness with respect to staff raising issues of ethical concern. Managers have significant control over how employees perceive both supervisor and informal policy support for external whistleblowing. The research shows the manager can provide the organization environment necessary to encourage or discourage external whistleblowing. The researched showed that most of those respondents who indicated that they would externally blow the whistle only did so when they believed that internal measures would not effectively stop the wrongdoing. In further support Callahan, E. S., & Collins, J. W. (1992) research article a survey was developed through direct contacts with employers and employees in Syracuse, New York. It reported on employee attitudes, whistleblowing outlets, internal whistleblowing, external whistleblowing, and legal protection. The research discussed that organizations may want to encourage their employees to be whistleblowers. The research also stated that whistleblower needs to be protected from retaliation. The survey revealed that organizations that do not encourage whistleblowing may want to have a strong policy and procedure on whistleblowing. “The sample for the study was developed through direct contacts with employers in the Syracuse, New York area. Thirteen employers and a professional association agreed to participate. The respondent pool included all employees of seven of the employers and a sample of six of the employers and the professional organization. The largest organization whose workers were surveyed employs more than four thousand people; the smallest, fewer than ten. Most of the forty members of the professional association who were surveyed work for different employers.” (Callahan 1992) Among the most significant findings of the survey are: “(1) Recognition by employees of a hierarchy of proper whistleblowing outlets: internal first, law enforcement agencies second, and news media last. (2) Less employee support for legal protection for whistleblowers who report unethical activities than for those who report illegal conduct. (3) Very strong overall employee support for legal protection of whistleblowers, even among managerial and supervisory employees. (4) A belief among employees that a fear of being fired deters whistleblowing.” (Callahan 1992)
Loyalty
In Larmer's (1992) article contributed to my research as it discussed that putting a stop to unethical behavior is a great type of loyalty that the employee can display, The article review has given useful information on: whistleblowing and employee loyalty, moral issues, and is the responsibility of the employee to the employer to serve the public interest. The review of this article will contribute to the development of the research paper in the discussion of whistleblowing and employee loyalty.
Also In Miceli, M. P., & Near, J. P. (1994) researched the different approaches organization can take by taking advantage of the whistleblowers information. Steps were discussed that the organization can take to avoid having its reputation tarnished and profitability diminished.
Edward Snowden
Madison, E. (2014) research on Edward Snowden discussed whether Snowden should be seen as a traitor or hero. Edward Snowden acted in great personal risk to leaked files that revealed the United States was spying on key officials of the European Union, NSA surveillance programs, and NSA hacking in Hong Kong and mainland China. this article contributed to the whistleblowing research in that the whistleblowers put the community, public and the world ahead of the personal safety.
Regarding Edward Snowden the article by Board Editorial (2014, 01 02) discussed how Snowden revealed to the world that the National Security Agency invaded millions of people lives by invading their privacy in regards to email, family, and friends. The research showed that Snowden initially used the internal channel but no actions were taken.

Discussion/Implications/Applications
I learned that most whistleblowers would disclose information again to the community, public, and world, even though that action causes great repercussions and personal hardships. Consider Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, who was head of research and development for Brown & Williamson, the nation's third largest tobacco company. In 1995 he disclosed that (B&W) deliberately put addictive and poisonous ingredients in cigarettes which triggered the brain to crave the cigarettes. Because of his disclosures to the public that B&W manufactured cigarettes that were a drug delivery devices B&W sued him. They also employed detectives to follow him and his family. Dr. Wigand lost his lucrative job, and would never be hired as a high level researcher again, but he would disclose unethical behavior again. Dr. Wigand said, “The word whistleblower suggests that you’re a tattletale or that you’re somehow disloyal…. But I wasn’t disloyal in the least bit. People were dying. I was loyal to a higher order of ethical responsibility. (Ghillyer, 2014).
Many whistleblowers’ marriages end in divorce, their friends and family disrespect them, and they have a fear for their lives. For example, Edward Snowden, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, revealed the NSA was invading the privacy of millions of people. The NSA was collecting information through surveillance of email and the telephone. He also revealed that the NSA was spying on key officials of the European Union with surveillance hacking in Hong Kong and mainland China. He now lives in Russia on the run from American charges of espionage and theft. According to the New York Times article, “he faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life looking over his shoulder.” (Board, Editorial. 2014) Robert Snowden revealed the NSA’s unethical surveillance to the public, community, and world. Because of his whistleblowing, we now know our lives are not as private as we once thought.
I learned that there are support groups for whistleblowers that are organized like Alcoholic Anonymous support groups. The support groups are helpful to the whistleblowers as they have understanding and sympathy from fellow whistleblowers who are also enduring financial ruin, loss of medical insurance, loss of family and friends, and loss of their job.
This is important to my own career plan because as an employee; I want to be transparent and I want to have the freedom and right to report a violation if I see one. Employees can report evidence of organizational misconduct internally or externally. Internally the employee goes directly to the managers. Externally, the employee goes directly to the media with their information. According to the article by the New York Times Editorial Board, Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower, he first use the internal channel. “Mr. Snowden told the Washington Post earlier this month that he did report his misgivings to two superiors at the agency, showing them the volume of data collected by the NSA, and that they took no action.” (Board Editorial, 2014). The public was made aware that their lives were not as private as they thought it was.
Implications for managers are they need to provide their employees with policy and procedures so to that they can feel safe to report any unethical behavior. Legal protection should be put into place. Ethical whistleblowers should be treated fairly and have the right to free speech. Retaliation should not be permitted. Consider the famous whistleblower, Karen Silkwood, who was a nuclear plant employee at the Kerr-McGee Plutonium Plant in Oklahoma. Ms. Silkwood blew the whistle on unsafe corporate practices related to health and safety of workers at the plant. She was on her way to meet a reporter from the New York Times with proof that her employer was poisoning its workers, and acting irresponsibly in the manufacture of radioactive plutonium rods. She never made the meeting as she died in a single auto accident under unclear circumstances.
Consider the recent whistleblowing of Mary Willingham, a learning specialist who formerly worked with athletes at UNC-Chapel Hill. Professor Willingham reported that 60 percent of 183 athletes specially tested over an eight-year period could not read at the high school level. Ten percent could not read above the third grade level. In 2011, Mary Willingham, gave crucial assistance to Dan Kane, an reporter with the Raleigh News & Observer who “uncovered the long-standing practice by academic advisers at Chapel Hill of steering basketball and football players into fake classes offered by the school’s black-studies department. The department pretended to offer lecture courses, but the classes never met” (Barrett, 2014). According to Willingham, “students received A and B grades for submitting a single paper, which they often cobbled together from material copied from the Internet.” (Barrett, 2014). Mrs. Willingham has received numerous death threats and since she began speaking out she has been demoted and her title has been stripped.
Future research is needed to come up with a solution that is better for everyone, as it is costly for companies and detrimental to the employees. The real world implications is the whistleblower suffers great personal risk. For example: “Peter Rost explains: A study of 233 whistleblowers by Donald Soeken of St. Elizabeth Hospital in Washington DC, found that the average whistleblower was a man in his forties with a strong conscience and high moral values.” Ghillyer, A. (2014). Consider the following statistics that Soeken reported on “After blowing the whistle on fraud, 90 percent of whistleblowers were fired or demoted, 27 percent faced lawsuits, 26 percent had to seek psychiatric or physical care, 25 percent suffered alcohol abuse, 17 percent lost their homes, 15 percent got divorced, 10 percent attempted suicide, and 8 percent were bankrupt. Ghillyer, A. (2014).
Conclusion
Conclusion
In conclusion, whistleblowing is ethical when it is done properly. Also, whistleblowing is important when a company’s product or decision will cause serious harm to the public. Therefore, whistleblowing is beneficial to the community and public because now they’re more aware of potential issues and problems. Whistleblowing is a necessary evil to the company but a good thing for the public. Whistleblowing is an important topic because it can save lives. Consider Dr. Jeffrey Wigand’s decision to go public with information that his employer was manipulating the nicotine content, suppressing efforts to develop safer cigarettes, and did not tell the truth about the addictive properties of nicotine. Therefore, whistleblowing can be a service to the community and public.
Whistleblowing encourages the truth for consumer safety and health. As we know, the whistleblower faces many risks, like losing their source of income and insurance. There is a very high emotional and mental cost to the whistleblower. Their family and friends can snub them and many other people retaliate. Whistleblowers pay a high price, and we all need to care about whistleblowing: how to not blame the messenger, and how to help individuals and organizations.
The whistleblowing by Edward Snowden, former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency informed millions of people around the world in great detail how their privacy was invaded by the National Security Agency (NSA). To reveal this information came as a great risk to Mr. Snowden, but he has done a great service to the world. Edward Snowden said, “I am neither traitor nor hero; I’m an American, The reality is that I have acted at great personal risk to help the public of the world, regardless of whether that public is American, European or Asian.’’ Madison, E. (2014).

References
Alford, C. F. (2000). Whistleblower narratives: Stuck in static time. Narrative, 8(3), 279-293. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20107219
Barrett, P. M. (2014, April 14). Business Week. Retrieved April 16, 2014, from Bloomberg Company: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-04-14/university-of-north-carolina-presses-attack-on-whistle-blower-in-fake-classes-for-athletes-scandal
Callahan, E. S., & Collins, J. W. (1992). Employee attitudes toward whistleblowing: Management and public policy implications. Journal of Business Ethics, 11(12), 939-948. Retrieved fromhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/25072359
Editorial. (2014, March 26). News and Observer. (Editorial, Editor) Retrieved 16 2014, April, from News and Observer: http://www.newsobserver.com/
Feliu, A. G. (1983). The legal side: The risks of blowing the whistle. The American Journal of Nursing, 83(10), 1387-1388+1390. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3463375
Ghillyer, A. (2008). Business ethics: A real world approach Irwin/McGraw-Hill.
Larmer, R. A. (1992). Whistleblowing and employee loyalty. Journal of Business Ethics, 11(2), 125-128. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25072254
Lennane, K. J. (1993). "Whistleblowing": A health issue. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 307(6905), 667-670. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/29721009
Madison, E. (2014). News narratives, classified secrets, privacy, and Edward Snowden. Electronic News, 8(1), 72-75. doi:10.1177/1931243114527869
Medland, D. (2013, June 6). 'Whistleblowing almost killed me'. Financial Times (London, England)
Miceli, M. P., & Near, J. P. (1994). Whistleblowing: Reaping the benefits. The Academy of Management Executive (1993-2005), 8(3), 65-72. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4165204
O'Dowd, A., Hayes, J., & Cohen, D. (2010). Whistle while you work. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 340(7756), 1110-1113. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40702237
Sheldon, T. (2002). How whistleblowing cost one doctor £550 000. BMJ: British Medical Journal, 324(7348), p. 1240. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25228386
Sims, R. L., & Keenan, J. P. (1998). Predictors of external whistleblowing: Organizational and intrapersonal variables. Journal of Business Ethics, 17(4), 411-421. Retrieved fromhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/25073090
Sinzdak, G. (2008). An analysis of current whistleblower laws: Defending a more flexible approach to reporting requirements. California Law Review, 96(6), 1633-1668. Retrieved fromhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/20441059
Westman, D. P. (2005). The significance of the sarbanes-oxley whistleblower provisions. The Labor Lawyer, 21(2), 141-155. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40862871
Wink, D. M. (1984). The 'catch 22' of whistleblowing. The American Journal of Nursing, 84(1), p. 19. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3463235

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...Each day an individual will make a decision that will affect their life in some way. Should I wear the green shirt or the yellow shirt? Should I order a shake or lemonade? Should I wash the car today or wait until tomorrow? These simple decisions often happen without serious thought. Why? Because these decision are not life changing ones. But what happens when the decision is not so easy to make, when it’s life changing. Sometimes a person’s conscious greatly affects one’s decision making, especially when the topic of whistle blowing arises. In this paper, I will discuss and analyze whistle-blowing, where it occurs, the effects of whistle-blowing, whether whistle-blowing is an act of betrayal or public service, the consequences of whistle-blowing, and finally I close my paper with a conclusion. This paper also aims to provide a balanced approach to this topic. Understood correctly whistle-blowing is defined as an informant who exposes wrongdoing within an organization. Whistle-blowing is not about informing in the negative but more so, raises concern about malpractice within an organization. More so, it can also be defined as the release of information by a member (or former member) of an organization where there is evidence of illegal or immoral conduct in the organization, or conduct in the organization that is not in the public interest . The decision and bravery of being prepared to blow the whistle is directly related to the cultural resistance in many......

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