Whistle blowing and rational loyalty

Journal of Business Ethics 53 (1-2):225-233 (2004)
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Today's complex and decentralized organization gives rise to organizational needs for both loyalty and institutionalized whistle blowing. However, ethicists see a contradiction between both needs. This paper argues there is no such contradiction. It shows why earlier attempts to go beyond the dilemma are not satisfying. The solution proposed in this paper starts from an organizational perspective instead of an individual one. It does so by reframing the concept of loyalty into rational loyalty. This means that the object of loyalty is not the physicality of an organization, but its corpus of explicit mission statement, goals, value statement and code of conduct. An implication is that organizations are – as their side of the duty of loyalty – obliged to institutionalize whistle blowing.



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