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Whistleblowers in organisations: prophets at work?

Whistleblowers in organisations: prophets at work?
Whistleblowers in organisations: prophets at work?
This article argues that the study of biblical prophets offers a profound contribution to understanding the experience, role and attributes of whistleblowers. Little is known in the literature about the moral triggers that lead individuals to blow the whistle in organisations or why whistleblowers may show persistence against the harshness experienced as a result of their actions. This article argues that our understanding of the whistleblower’s work is highly informed by appreciating how moral values and norms are exercised by prophets in seeking to become agents for change. This article identifies three core implications that have practical and theoretical relevance. The first concerns how the whistleblowing activity challenges the established order of an organisation as this is comprised of institutional structures, policies and procedures. Institutions display an unusual fragility against the seemingly powerless individual who helps reveal the wrongdoing. By disclosing ‘hidden’ knowledge concerning illegitimate intentions and actions, the seemingly powerless individual creates tension that has implications for the stability and order of the organisation. The second implication concerns the degree of social concern and the individual’s interpretation of morality. Whistleblowers, like prophets, display concern for moral values that have implications for the welfare of others, and which they seek to promote through their whistleblowing act. The third implication concerns the importance of agency. By taking a moral stance, the whistleblower assumes an important agentic role facilitating change through his/her intervention. Although such change is sudden and unpredictable it brings about new conditions for the organisation and its members.
0167-4544
71-84
Avakian, Stephanos
af555686-ecbb-4837-a88a-7c9a21dd672e
Roberts, Joanne
c49f0cf6-8c79-4826-b7f2-8563d7aa99cf
Avakian, Stephanos
af555686-ecbb-4837-a88a-7c9a21dd672e
Roberts, Joanne
c49f0cf6-8c79-4826-b7f2-8563d7aa99cf

Avakian, Stephanos and Roberts, Joanne (2012) Whistleblowers in organisations: prophets at work? Journal of Business Ethics, 110 (1), 71-84. (doi:10.1007/s10551-011-1148-7).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This article argues that the study of biblical prophets offers a profound contribution to understanding the experience, role and attributes of whistleblowers. Little is known in the literature about the moral triggers that lead individuals to blow the whistle in organisations or why whistleblowers may show persistence against the harshness experienced as a result of their actions. This article argues that our understanding of the whistleblower’s work is highly informed by appreciating how moral values and norms are exercised by prophets in seeking to become agents for change. This article identifies three core implications that have practical and theoretical relevance. The first concerns how the whistleblowing activity challenges the established order of an organisation as this is comprised of institutional structures, policies and procedures. Institutions display an unusual fragility against the seemingly powerless individual who helps reveal the wrongdoing. By disclosing ‘hidden’ knowledge concerning illegitimate intentions and actions, the seemingly powerless individual creates tension that has implications for the stability and order of the organisation. The second implication concerns the degree of social concern and the individual’s interpretation of morality. Whistleblowers, like prophets, display concern for moral values that have implications for the welfare of others, and which they seek to promote through their whistleblowing act. The third implication concerns the importance of agency. By taking a moral stance, the whistleblower assumes an important agentic role facilitating change through his/her intervention. Although such change is sudden and unpredictable it brings about new conditions for the organisation and its members.

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More information

Published date: 2012
Organisations: Winchester School of Art

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 346918
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/346918
ISSN: 0167-4544
PURE UUID: c4c219b9-10c8-4ba6-b032-8766dbc49265
ORCID for Joanne Roberts: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5337-1698

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Date deposited: 28 Jan 2013 11:50
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 12:25

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Contributors

Author: Stephanos Avakian
Author: Joanne Roberts ORCID iD

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