Edited by A. J. Brown, David Lewis, Richard E. Moberly and Wim Vandekerckhove
Chapter 1: Whistleblowing, its importance and the state of the research
To the uninitiated or the foolish, ‘whistleblowing’ may readily seem like a niche, almost boutique issue for research and policy making. The ‘disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action’ (Near and Miceli 1985: 4), sounds like a very specific, perhaps even narrow or technical field of study. And yet, in the modern age of institutions, whistleblowing is now established as one of the most important processes – if not the single most important process – by which governments and corporations are kept accountable to the societies they are meant to serve and service. The ability for organizational ‘insiders’ to speak up about wrongdoing, and what happens afterwards in terms of corrective responses and treatment of the people involved, lies at the very heart of the health of all institutions and modern regulatory processes, right across society. In many ways, therefore, the subject could also not be broader, nor more far-reaching in terms of its complexities and consequences.This Handbook provides researchers and policy makers from around the world with a comprehensive overview of the state of our knowledge regarding this vital process, in light of the last 30 years of progressively more systematic research into whistleblowing.
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