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 13: Managerial responsiveness to whistleblowing: Expanding the research horizon

Wim Vandekerckhove, A.J. Brown and Eva Tsahuridu


Over the past 40 years, most whistleblowing research has focused on the whistleblower. Given the historical, political and organizational context in which the notion of ‘whistleblowing’ appeared in Western public affairs from the early 1970s (Vandekerckhove 2006), this focus on the whistleblower is not surprising. When systematic empirical research began in the 1980s, the researchers faced an agenda determined largely by an antagonism between managers in organizations, on the one hand, and activists, including whistleblowers, who were trying to change corporate and governmental behavior, on the other. The result was a crude antagonism between whistleblowers as ‘ethical resisters’ and organizations as ‘bureaucratic hierarchies’ (Glazer and Glazer 1989). This dichotomy has proved enduring (e.g. O’Day 1974; De Maria 1999; Alford 2001; Uys 2008). It has naturally flowed through to research questions based on attempts to identify: Who is the whistleblower? Are they heroes or villains? Do they harm organizations? Should we protect these individuals? Forty years later, the political and organizational context seems to be a different one. As set out in Chapter 1, and in more detail in later chapters, legislation protecting or rewarding external whistleblowers is no longer a rarity. Whistleblowing policies and procedures are widely advocated as elements for strengthening public integrity, corporate governance, and efforts to combat corruption and fraud.

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