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Whistleblowing as escalating voice

Whistleblowing as escalating voice

Kenny, Kate, Vandekerckhove, Wim ORCID: 0000-0002-0106-7915 and Irfan, Muhammad (2019) Whistleblowing as escalating voice. In: Wilkinson, A., Donaghey, J., Dundon, T. and Freeman, R., (eds.) Handbook of Employee Voice. Edward Elgar. (In Press)

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To date two important strands of research in work and employment: employee voice and whistleblowing studies, have tended to ignore each other despite the fact that both focus on similar phenomena—workers attempting to speak up. As a result potential insights into how and why people speak up about serious wrongdoing taking place in organizations, have not been realized. We argue that this represents a missed opportunity. Examining both fields we propose a new theoretical framing that brings together these previously disparate areas. We develop a conceptual model of whistleblowing voice that uniquely encompasses insights from whistleblowing research. The model comprises three inter-related stages, mediating factors, and a number of feedback loops. Developing this we depict whistleblowing as a process of escalating voice, a framing that gives rise to a number of novel insights into whistleblowing voice in organizations. First, factors external to the organization cannot be overlooked as they have been to date in the voice literature. These include potential impacts on society of the wrongdoing that whistleblowing attempts to highlight, external recipients of whistleblowing voice including regulators and media, and discourses of censorship pertaining to a particular industry sector that can determine a-priori whether or not whistleblowing voice is even possible. Our second contribution is to highlight the centrality of recursive feedback loops to the whistleblowing voice process. As we show, the perceived response to a potential whistleblowing action influences the nature of the action itself. Our third contribution is to highlight how a number of conceptual distinctions that have persisted to date in the voice literature, must be problematized in order to analyze whistleblowing voice. Overall we argue that our model of whistleblowing as escalating voice enables a more nuanced analytic framing of whistleblowing voice than previously available, and thus adds to extant debates. In the absence of attention to the crucial issues therein, existing conceptual frameworks for understanding whistleblowing voice in organizations remain lacking, while organizations continue to struggle with their responses to ever-changing legislation in this sphere. Meanwhile opportunities for employees to speak up about wrongdoing remain scarce representing a serious obstacle to an essential safety valve for society.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: organization, process, speak-up, voice, whistleblowing
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW)
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: 18 Oct 2019 15:56

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