A Better Statutory Approach to Whistle-blowing

Business Ethics Quarterly 7 (1):1-16 (1997)
Abstract
Statutory approaches toward whistle-blowing currently appear to be based on the assumption that most observers of wrongdoing willreport it unless deterred from doing so by fear of retaliation. Yet our review of research from studies of whistle-blowing behavior suggests that this assumption is unwarranted. We propose that an alternative legislative approach would prove more successful in encouraging valid whistle-blowing and describe a model for such legislation that would increase self-monitoring of ethical behavior by organizations, with obvious benefits to society at large.A defense contractor’s inspectors used improper calibration standards when inspecting missile parts and other military products, usednoncertified inspectors when inspecting such products, and used employees without top-secret clearance to work on classified projects. This created potentially life-threatening products as well as potential compromises of military secrets.Quality-control officials on the Trans Alaska Pipeline were threatened with physical harm, demoted, and spied on in an effort to force them not to turn in negative reports or report problems. As a result, the likelihood of damaging oil spills due to improperly built and maintained equipment is heightened.A major corporation allegedly initiated an analysis of the cost savings that would result from circumventing or reducing compliance withhealth, safety and environmental standards. Two officers who objected to this noncompliance cost/benefit analysis were subsequently fired
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Mathieu Bouville (2008). Whistle-Blowing and Morality. Journal of Business Ethics 81 (3):579 - 585.
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