Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 321–328 | Cite as

Ethical tension points in whistleblowing

  • J. Vernon Jensen

Abstract

This paper analyzes the number of procedural and substantive tension points with which a conscientious whistleblower struggles. Included in the former are such questions as: (1) Am I properly depicting the seriousness of the problem? (2) Have I secured the information properly, analyzed it appropriately, and presented it fairly? (3) Are my motives appropriate? (4) Have I tried fully enough to have the problem corrected within the organization? (5) Should I blow the whistle while still a member of the organization or after having left it? (6) Should I keep anonymity? (7) How ethical is it to assume the role of a judge? (8) How ethical is it to set in motion an act which will likely be very costly to many people? Substantive tension points include such questions as: (1) How fully am I living up to my moral obligations to my organization and my colleagues? (2) Am I appropriately upholding the ethical standards of my profession? (3) How adversely will my action affect my family and other primary groups? (4) Am I being true to myself? (5) How will my action affect the health of such basic values as freedom of expression, independent judgment, courage, fairness, cooperativeness, and loyalty?

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Agee, Philip: 1976, Inside the Company (N.Y.: Bantam Books).Google Scholar
  2. Baldwin, Deborah: 1985, ‘The Loneliness of the Government Whistleblower’, Common Cause Magazine (Jan./Feb.), pp. 32–34.Google Scholar
  3. Bok, Sissela: 1982, Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation (New York: Pantheon Books).Google Scholar
  4. Bormann, Ernest G.: 1975, Discussion and Group Methods: Theory and Practice, 2nd ed. (New York: Harper & Row), Chapter 3.Google Scholar
  5. Dean, Malcolm: 1985, ‘Man Who Blew the Whistle on Firm Demands £1/2m.’ Manchester Guardian Weekly (June 2), p. 5.Google Scholar
  6. DeGeorge, Richard T.: 1981, ‘Ethical Responsibilities of Engineers in Large Organizations: The Pinto Case’, Business Professional Ethics Journal 1 (Fall), 1–17.Google Scholar
  7. DeGeorge, Richard T.: 1982, Business Ethics (New York: Macmillan), pp. 157–165.Google Scholar
  8. Elliston, Frederick A.: 1982, ‘Civil Disobedience and Whistleblowing: A Comparative Appraisal of Two Forms of Dissent’, Journal of Business Ethics 1, 23–28.Google Scholar
  9. Elliston, Frederick A.: 1982, ‘Anonymity and Whistleblowing’, Journal of Business Ethics 1, 167–177.Google Scholar
  10. Eveland, Wilbur Crane: 1980, Ropes of Sand: America's Failure in the Middle East (London: W. W. Norton & Co.).Google Scholar
  11. Ewing, David W.: 1977, Freedom Inside the Organization (New York: McGraw-Hill).Google Scholar
  12. Glazer, Myron: 1983, ‘Ten Whistleblowers and How They Fared’, The Hastings Center Report 13 (Dec.), 33–41.Google Scholar
  13. Goodman, Ellen: 1984, ‘It's Hard Work Spending All That Money’, Minneapolis Tribune (Sept. 25), p. 10A.Google Scholar
  14. Johannesen, Richard L.: 1983, Ethics in Human Communication, 2nd ed. (Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press).Google Scholar
  15. Kosterlitz, Julie and Lee Norrgard: 1984, ‘The Selling of the Pentagon’, Common Cause Magazine 10 (Nov./Dec.), pp. 14–18.Google Scholar
  16. LaCroix, Wilfred L.: 1979, Principles for Ethics in Business, rev. ed. (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America), pp. 118–120.Google Scholar
  17. Minneapolis Star and Tribune (June 14): 1985, p. 19A.Google Scholar
  18. Nader, Ralph, Mark Green and Joel Seligman: 1976, Taming the Giant Corporation (New York: W. W. Norton).Google Scholar
  19. Nader, Ralph, Peter J. Petkas, and Kate Blackwell, eds.: 1972, Whistle Blowing: The Report of the Conference on Professional Responsibility (New York: Grossman).Google Scholar
  20. Nilsen, Thomas R.: 1979, ‘Confidentiality and Morality’, Western Journal of Speech Communication 43, 38–47.Google Scholar
  21. Oberdorfer, Dan (editorial): 1984, Minneapolis Tribune (Sept. 15), p. 18A.Google Scholar
  22. O'Neil, Robert: 1978, The Rights of Government Employees (New York: Avon Books).Google Scholar
  23. Pearson, Drew and Jack Anderson: 1968, The Case Against Congress (New York: Simon and Schuster), Part I.Google Scholar
  24. Peters, Charles and Taylor Branch: 1972, Blowing the Whistle: Dissent in the Public Interest (New York: Praeger).Google Scholar
  25. Redding, W. Charles: 1985, ‘Rocking Boats, Blowing Whistles, and Teaching Speech Communication’, Communication Education 34, 245–258.Google Scholar
  26. ‘Revising the U.S. Senate Code of Ethics’, The Hastings Center Report 11 (Feb. 1981), 1–28.Google Scholar
  27. Sanders, Wayne: 1981, ‘Free Speech for the Private Employee: Will State Action Rulings Bring the Constitution to the Workplace?’, Southern Speech Communication Journal 46, 397–410.Google Scholar
  28. Sanders, Wayne: 1983, ‘The First Amendment and the Government Workplace: Has the Constitution Fallen Down on the Job?’, Western Journal of Speech Communication 47, 253–276.Google Scholar
  29. Smith, Stephen A.: 1983, ‘The Uncivil Servants: Public Employees and Political Expression’, Free Speech Yearbook: 1983, pp. 51–61.Google Scholar
  30. Stewart, Lea, P.: 1980, ‘Whistleblowing: Implications for Organizational Communication Scholars’, paper at the International Communication Association convention, Acapulco, Mexico, May 18–23, 1980.Google Scholar
  31. Walters, Kenneth D.: 1975, ‘Your Employee's Right to Blow the Whistle’, Harvard Business Review 53 (July–Aug.), 26–34++.Google Scholar
  32. Walters, Kenneth D.: 1976, ‘Employee Freedom of Speech’, Industrial Relations 15, 26–43.Google Scholar
  33. The Washington Monthly, ed. by Charles Peters, 1969 — present.Google Scholar
  34. Werhane, Patricia: 1983, ‘Individual Rights in Business’, in Tom Regan, ed., Just Business: New Introductory Essays in Business Ethics (Philadelphia: Temple University Press), pp. 114–119.Google Scholar
  35. Westin, Alan F., ed.: 1981, Whistle Blowing: Loyalty and Dissent in the Corporation (New York: McGraw-Hill).Google Scholar
  36. ‘“Whistleblower” Gets Poor Job Rating’, The New York Times (August 1), 1985, p. 12A.Google Scholar
  37. Winslow, Gerald R.: 1984, ‘From Loyalty to Advocacy: A New Metaphor for Nursing’, The Hastings Center Report 14 (June), 32–40.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Vernon Jensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Speech Communication, 317 Folwell HallUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations