The experiences of whistleblowers after misconduct is reported

I. Dussuyer1 and R. G. Smith2

1 Victoria University
2 Australian Institute of Criminology

*corresponding author: iddussuyer@hotmail.com

While the reporting of misconduct is increasingly encouraged in organisations, the people who do so – also termed  ‘whistle-blowers’ – may experience retaliation and victimisation for having spoken up, in spite of efforts to protect them through legislation and policies. This paper presents findings from qualitative research carried out in during 2015. To understand the experiences of whistle-blowers, interviews were conducted with a self-selected sample of whistle-blowers from the private and public sectors (n=27) who had contacted either of two hotline/support services. To understand the whistleblowing experience further, the perspectives of people who receive and handle whistle-blowers  (such as investigators, disclosure coordinators and hotline operators) were also obtained through interviews (n=22).  The findings show that although the whistle-blowers interviewed reported a range of negative experiences after reporting misconduct, many were pleased to have had done so and would do it again if necessary. The perspectives of those receiving whistle-blower reports focussed on ways in which the negative experiences of whistle-blowers could be prevented and on the positive outcomes for the organisation after whistle-blowers had reported misconduct. The findings will assist in developing more open and transparent organisations where reports from whistle-blowers are welcomed and in improving psychological safety in the workplace.

Biography

Dr Russell G Smith has worked at the Australian Institute of Criminology  for over 20 years, carrying out research into fraud, cybercrime and professional regulation. With qualifications in law, psychology and criminology from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from King’s College London, he practised as a solicitor in the 1980s and then taught criminology at the University of Melbourne in the 1990s. He has been a member of ANZSOC for over 35 years and was its President between 2009 and 2012.

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