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Whistleblowing from an international perspective: A comparative analysis of institutional arrangements

Whistleblowing from an international perspective: A comparative analysis of institutional arrangements

Loyens, Kim and Vandekerckhove, Wim ORCID: 0000-0002-0106-7915 (2018) Whistleblowing from an international perspective: A comparative analysis of institutional arrangements. Administrative Sciences, 8 (3):30. ISSN 2076-3387 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci8030030)

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Abstract

While there appears to be consensus amongst policy makers that legislation to protect whistleblowers is needed, the emerging policy question addresses what institutional framework is most fit to implement whistleblowing legislation. However, the institutions to whom whistleblowers report—which are in the literature addressed as internal or external recipients of whistleblowing concerns—have been given limited scholarly attention. Research has instead focused on motives, behaviour, and experiences of whistleblowers on the one hand, and whistleblowing legislation on the other. Particularly the role of external agencies, like ombudsmen, anti-corruption agencies, and Inspector General offices, in dealing with whistleblowing concerns has been under-studied. With the aim of starting to fill this research gap, this paper reports the findings of a comparative study of governmental whistleblowing agencies (other than courts) and non-governmental whistleblowing protection organizations (NGOs), as important examples of external recipients of whistleblowing concerns, in 11 countries with whistleblowing legislation. The study aimed to find similarities and differences between these agencies, and to identify challenges and dilemmas that the installation of whistleblowing agencies bring about. Data collection was done by means of 21 interviews with academic experts and high-ranking officials within the selected countries, and in-depth analysis of available (policy) documents and reports. This paper finds that in the studied countries, there is a trend to install governmental whistleblowing agencies that combine various tasks to implement whistleblowing legislation (e.g., advice, psychosocial care, investigation of wrongdoing or retaliation, and prevention of wrongdoing). When such agencies are absent or considered weak, NGOs may step in to fill the need. Whereas most governmental whistleblowing agencies have investigative tasks, in Belgium and in the Netherlands, investigations of wrongdoing and retaliation are done within the same department for the reason that these issues cannot be easily separated. Other agencies have separated these tasks to avoid conflict of interest or because different expertise is claimed to be needed for both. Further research is needed to analyze the effects of each institutional approach, and how to avoid conflict of interest, particularly the risk of partial investigations of wrongdoing. Our study also shows that while not many countries provide government funds for specific psychosocial care for whistleblowers, most governmental whistleblowing agencies do give advice to whistleblowers and invest in the prevention of wrongdoing or training of those who implement whistleblowing legislation. While providing important insights into the role of whistleblowing agencies in 11 countries, this study also develops questions for further research.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Uncontrolled Keywords: whistleblowing; institutions; reporting wrongdoing; comparative study
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour
Faculty of Business > Work & Employment Research Unit (WERU)
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Work & Employment Research Unit (WERU)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2018 16:43
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/20864

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