Cover image for Whistleblowing at work : tough choices in exposing fraud, waste, and abuse on the job
Whistleblowing at work : tough choices in exposing fraud, waste, and abuse on the job
Miethe, Terance D.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xii, 252 pages ; 20 cm.
Reading Level:
1480 Lexile.
Format :


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HD60.5.U5 M54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reactions to misconduct in the workplace are wide and varied. Some people feel no major compulsion to speak out and their organizations seem content with this inaction. Other employees become strongly committed to disclosing the abuse to authorities outside the organization and take whatever steps are necessary even in the face of severe and swift organizational retaliation. What individual, organizational, and situational factors account for these differences? And how can employees in a variety of work settings best respond to organizational misconduct without getting burned?Using data from personal interviews and surveys of employees in various work settings, this book examines whistleblowing--the reporting by employees and former employees of illegal, unethical, and otherwise inappropriate conduct to someone who has the power to take corrective action--and its individual and organizational consequences. Early chapters define whistleblowing, identifying its major forms, and describing the problems with studying whistleblowers. The book then turns to the social and psychological attributes of whistleblowers, the situational factors, and the organizational characteristics that increase or decrease the likelihood of its occurrence. Subsequent chapters examine the individual and organizational consequences of whistleblowing, the legal rights and safeguards for whistleblowers, and particular case histories. The book concludes with a summary of strategic choices and practical advice for persons who are considering whether and how to report organizational misconduct.

Author Notes

Terance D. Miethe is professor of criminal justice at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figuresp. viii
List of Acronymsp. ix
Preface and Acknowledgmentsp. xi
1 Introductionp. 1
2 What Is Whistleblowing and How Do We Study It?p. 11
Definitional Issuesp. 11
How to Identify and Study Whistleblowersp. 17
Data Sources for the Current Researchp. 19
3 Snitching, Changing Work Organizations, and Whistleblowingp. 21
The Origins of Negative Attitudes Toward Snitchingp. 21
Modern Work Organizations and the Need for Whistleblowersp. 24
Changes in Organizational and Occupational Deviancep. 27
The Extent of Organizational and Occupational Deviancep. 30
Why Whistleblowing Is Needed to Control Organizational Misconductp. 31
Alternative Mechanisms for Controlling Misconduct at Workp. 34
Summaryp. 36
4 The Prevalence and the Profile of Whistleblowersp. 39
The Prevalence of Whistleblowingp. 39
The Social and Psychological Profile of Whistleblowersp. 43
Situational Factorsp. 54
Organizational Factorsp. 61
Summaryp. 67
5 Individual and Organizational Consequences of Whistleblowingp. 69
The Personal Benefitsp. 69
The Personal Costsp. 73
Personal and Situational Correlates of Retaliationp. 79
The Collective Benefits of Whistleblowingp. 83
The Collective Costs of Whistleblowingp. 86
Summaryp. 89
6 The Legal Protection of Whistleblowersp. 91
Factors Influencing Legal Protectionp. 92
Types of Legal Protectionp. 94
The False Claims Act and Qui Tam Lawsuitsp. 133
Strengths and Weaknesses of Legal Remedies for Whistleblowersp. 137
Effectiveness of Legal Remedies for Whistleblowingp. 141
Summaryp. 147
7 Case Histories of Six Whistleblowersp. 149
Mike Quint and the Los Angeles Subway Tunnelsp. 149
Trudi Lytle and the Clark County Public School Systemp. 164
Toxic Waste Disposal in Area 51p. 173
Norm Buske and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyardp. 186
Mark O'Neal and the Nation's Nuclear Bomb Factoryp. 192
Dr. Jeffrey Wigand and the Tobacco Industryp. 197
Summaryp. 207
8 Strategic Choices and Practical Advicep. 209
What Misconduct to Reportp. 210
How to Report Misconductp. 214
Legal Remedies for Retaliatory Actionp. 224
The Aftermath of Whistleblowingp. 227
A Checklist of Questions for Potential Whistleblowersp. 229
Conclusionp. 233
Appendix Support Organizations and Resources for Whistleblowersp. 235
Cited Studies and General Referencesp. 237
Indexp. 245