Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 835–845 | Cite as

Trade Unions and the Whistleblowing Process in the UK: An Opportunity for Strategic Expansion?

  • David Lewis
  • Wim VandekerckhoveEmail author


Historically, whistleblowing research has predominantly focused on psychological and organisational conditions of raising concerns about alleged wrongdoing. Today, however, policy makers increasingly start to look at institutional frameworks for protecting whistleblowers and responding to their concerns. This article focuses on the latter by exploring the roles that trade unions might adopt in order to improve responsiveness in the whistleblowing process. Research has consistently demonstrated that the two main reasons that deter people from reporting perceived wrongdoing are fear of retaliation and a belief that the wrongdoing is unlikely to be rectified. In this article, we argue that trade unions have an important part to play in dealing with both these inhibiting factors but this requires them to be appropriately engaged in the whistleblowing process and willing to take a more proactive approach to negotiations. We use Vandekerckhove’s 3-tiered whistleblowing model and Kaine’s model of union voice level to structure our speculative analysis of the various ways in which trade unions can interact with whistleblowers and organisations they raise concerns about alleged wrongdoing in, as well as agents at a regulatory level. Our articulation of specific roles trade unions can play in the whistleblowing process uses examples from the UK as to how these trade union roles are currently linked to and embedded in employment law and whistleblowing regulation.


Successful whistleblowing Unions Voice Whistleblowing 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Middlesex UniversityLondonUK
  2. 2.Faculty of BusinessUniversity of GreenwichLondonUK

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