Skip navigation

Whistleblowing as a protracted process. A study of UK whistleblower journeys

Whistleblowing as a protracted process. A study of UK whistleblower journeys

Vandekerckhove, Wim ORCID: 0000-0002-0106-7915 and Phillips, Arron (2017) Whistleblowing as a protracted process. A study of UK whistleblower journeys. Journal of Business Ethics. pp. 1-19. ISSN 0167-4544 (Print), 1573-0697 (Online) (doi:

PDF (Author Accepted Manuscript)
17969 VANDEKERCKHOVE_Whistleblowing_as_a_Protracted_Process_2017.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (385kB) | Preview
[img] PDF (Acceptance Email)
17969 VANDEKERCKHOVE_Acceptance_Email_2017.pdf - Additional Metadata
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (25kB) | Request a copy


This paper provides an exploration of whistleblowing as a protracted process, using secondary da-ta from 868 cases from a whistleblower advice line in the UK. Previous research on whistleblow-ing has mainly studied this phenomenon as a one-off decision by someone perceiving wrongdoing within an organisation to raise a concern or to remain silent. Earlier suggestions that whistleblowing is a process and that people find themselves inadvertently turned into whistleblowers by management responses, has not been followed up by a systematic study tracking the path of how a concern is repeatedly raised by whistleblowers. This paper provides a quantitative exploration of whistleblowing as a protracted process, rather than a one-off decision. Our research finds that the whistleblowing process generally entails two or even three internal at-tempts to raise a concern before an external attempt is made, if it is made at all. We also find that it is necessary to distinguish further between different internal (e.g. line manager, higher management, specialist channels) as well as external whistleblowing recipients (e.g. regulators, professional bodies, journalists). Our findings suggest that whistleblowing is a protracted process and that this process is internally more protracted than previously documented. The overall pattern is that whistleblowers tend to search for a more independent recipient at each successive attempt to raise their concern. Formal whistleblower power seems to determine which of the available recipients are perceived as viable, and also what the initial responses are in terms of retaliation and effectiveness.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Effective whistleblowing, External whistleblowing, Internal whistleblowing, Power, Retaliation
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Work & Employment Research Unit (WERU)
Faculty of Business > Department of Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2019 10:54
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: GREAT c
Selected for GREAT 2018: GREAT d
Selected for GREAT 2019: GREAT 2

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics