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Whistleblowing: A Restrictive Definition and Interpretation

Peter B. Jubb
Journal of Business Ethics
Vol. 21, No. 1 (Aug., 1999), pp. 77-94
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25074156
Page Count: 18
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Whistleblowing: A Restrictive Definition and Interpretation
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Abstract

Whistleblowing has been defined often and in differing ways in the literature. This paper has as its main purposes to clarify the meaning of whistleblowing and to speak for a narrow interpretation of it. A restrictive, general purpose definition is provided which contains six necessary elements: act of disclosure, actor, disclosure subject, target, disclosure recipient, and outcome. Whistleblowing is characterised as a dissenting act of public accusation against an organisation which necessitates being disloyal to that organisation. The definition differs from others in many ways but especially by its emphasis on dissent, by being based on the ethical dilemma of conflicting loyalties, and by the strict way that dilemma is formulated in terms of confidentiality and proprietary rights over information. These features result in a definition in which motive has no part, and which requires a free choice decision to make disclosure to an external party.

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