whistleblowing the ethical obligation and why it should be done Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1437 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Business  ·  Written: August 7, 2017

Whistleblowers need protection because of the potential for reprisal, discipline, or being labeled as a “snitch” or as not being a “team player,” (“Whistle Blowing,” n.d.). However, recent research on whistleblowing shows that contrary to popular belief, most whistleblowers do not suffer significant reprisal at all. In a random sample of whistleblowers from well-known organizations, the majority did not suffer reprisal (Near & Miceli, 2016, p. 112). Being fired, being increasingly scrutinized at work, verbal harassment, intimidation, and other practices are only reported in companies with poor organizational cultures that support such practices and norms. “Toxic leadership,” and toxic cultural norms in the organization will “make it likely that whistleblowers will encounter hostility and alienation,” (“Encouraging Internal Whistleblowing in Organizations,” 2003). This is why most organizations are implementing programs to protect workers, and also why the federal and state governments also offer protection to encourage whistleblowers from coming forward.

Objection to the ArgumentBuy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Whistleblowing can lead to serious retaliation including being demoted, fired, or harassed in the workplace. It is not in the best interest of any employee to blow the whistle because most individuals are systematically disempowered in the organization. Whistleblowers are like snitches, who sometimes prevent an organization from achieving its goals using proven means, even if those means seem unethical to inferior employees. Likewise, whistleblowing is a passive-aggressive act that signals a disgruntled employee seeking revenge on the company. Therefore, whistleblowing should not be encouraged, and it is also not an ethical obligation. Furthermore, companies will continue to act unethically, and whistleblowing does nothing meaningful to create ethical business environments. Moberly (2007) also claims that whistleblowing protection laws like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, rarely lead to change and do not necessarily lead to favorable outcomes for the employees. Therefore, employees should keep to themselves and only consider their immediate obligations to the organization.

Defense Against the Objection

Term Paper on whistleblowing the ethical obligation and why it should be done Assignment

The objections to the argument that whistleblowing is an ethical obligation come mainly from myths about what whistleblowing is, what it entails, and how organizations react to whistleblowers. One objection to the obligation to report wrongdoing is that the employee will be fired or suffer similar retaliation. Research repeatedly shows that retaliation is not as common or as severe as the news media makes it out to be (Near & Miceli, 1996; Near & Miceli, 2016). One survey of military personnel showed that none suffered demotion, firing, or suspension (Near & Miceli, 2016). Fear of reprisal is simply a way for unscrupulous employers to discourage whistleblowing.

A second objection to the argument that whistleblowing is an ethical obligation is that whistleblowers are out for revenge; that they are disgruntled employees. Research does not substantiate this argument. Whistleblowers are not “crackpots” out for revenge; they are simply employees who have high ethical standards and who might have been at the wrong place at the wrong time to have witnessed an ethical infraction (Near & Miceli, 1996, p. 510). Whistleblowing sometimes reveals power struggles and hierarchies within the organization, but the research on whistleblowers—including anonymous surveys--shows that the motivation for reporting wrongdoing is ethical and not personal (Near & Miceli, 2016).


The more organizations promote whistleblowing protection programs, the more likely it will be that individuals will report wrongdoing in ways that protect the organization. Organizations are comprised mainly of individuals that have a vested interest in the success of the company. Ethical infractions do not promote the success of any organization, and can cause serious financial and reputational problems, especially if an employee blows the whistle to the press or to a government agency. The more individuals report wrongdoing, the less frequent ethical infractions will become in business. As increasing numbers of organizations have transformed the norms of their culture to enable whistleblowing, state and federal governments also have new laws and policies in place to protect whistleblowers.


Beim, D., Hirsch, A.V. & Kastellec, J.P. (2014). Whistleblowing and compliance in the judicial hierarchy. American Journal of Political Science 58(4): 904-918.

“Encouraging Internal Whistleblowing in Organizations,” (2003). Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Retrieved online: https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/business-ethics/resources/encouraging-internal-whistleblowing/

Moberly, R.E. (2007). Unfilfilled expectations. William & Mary Law Review 49(1).

Near, J.P. & Miceli, M.P. (1996). Whistle-blowing: Myth and reality. Journal of Management 22(3): 507-526.

Near, J.P. & Miceli, M.P. (2016). After the wrongdoing. Business Horizons 59(1): 105-114.

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