Whistleblowing Needs a Mother

Peter Bowden


The argument of this paper is that whistleblowing is an orphan. It is proven as the most effective way to identify wrongdoing, yet it belongs within no academic discipline or professional occupation. The paper argues that such a home is vital. There are several reasons. All disciplines and occupations experience whistleblowing issues. Where do the people from those occupations find the information to teach, consult or manage whistleblowing practices? Where do whistleblowers in these many different disciplines  go to find out what to do? How do they protect themselves from the retribution that will possibly follow? In addition, there are many institutional questions on how a society effectively ensures wrongdoing is stopped yet fully protects the whistleblower. How and where are those questions best answered? And from what academic base is that knowledge passed onto other disciplines? Research on whistleblowing is conducted by many disciplines. Those researchers will likely publish in their respective discipline journals. How then are these findings cross fertilised? Finally, in addition to difficulties in learning and teaching across different disciplines, we do not seem to learn from the different systems around the world. We do not know which system, or combination thereof, maximises the ability of ordinary people to speak out safely and effectively against wrongdoing. The paper concludes with an exploration of the institutional and academic options that could provide an effective mother.

Keywords: whistleblowing, whistleblowing research, interdisciplinarity

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