International Handbook on Whistleblowing Research
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International Handbook on Whistleblowing Research

Edited by A. J. Brown, David Lewis, Richard E. Moberly and Wim Vandekerckhove

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. This essential 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 addition to drawing from the last 30 years of progressively more systematic research into whistleblowing, it also provides cutting-edge analysis of the conceptual and practical challenges that researchers will want to confront in the next decade.
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Chapter 12: ‘To persons or organizations that may be able to effect action’: Whistleblowing recipients

Richard Moberly


As this book demonstrates, scholars have conducted substantial research on whistleblowers. However, the recipients of whistleblower disclosures receive much less academic attention, which is surprising because they play a crucial and difficult role in the whistleblowing process (Near and Miceli 1995: 693). Indeed, Miceli et al. (2008: 140) call the recipient ‘the most important … member’ in the whistleblowing process other than the whistleblower, ‘because he or she will decide what action will be taken’. Classically defined as ‘persons or organizations that may be able to effect action’ after they receive a report of misconduct (Near and Miceli 1985: 4), recipients can respond to the allegation in numerous ways that will help determine the impact of the whistleblower’s complaint. Recipients can work to alleviate the underlying misconduct or they can ignore the complaint and/or retaliate against the whistleblower (see Miceli and Near 1992: 179; Mesmer-Magnus and Viswesvaran 2005: 281; Near and Miceli 1986: 138–41). Whistleblowers will assess the recipient’s response and act accordingly: if they are ignored, they may continue to blow the whistle to a different recipient, or they may give up. They may exit the company. If they are retaliated against, they may file an additional complaint, either internally or to an administrative or judicial body if they are protected by anti-retaliation protections (Miceli and Near 1992: 56–8). Recipients affect not only the specific whistleblower in a specific instance, but also ‘the propensity of other observers of wrongdoing to report concerns internally’ (Miceli and Near 1992: 77).

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