Selected Papers from the International Whistleblowing Research Network Conference Oslo June 2017.
International Whistleblowing Research Network (ebook), 2017, ISBN: 978-0-9571384-2-1
106 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2017
Date Written: November 2, 2017
Following the IWRN conferences in 2011, 2013 and 2015 two Ebooks ‘Whistleblowing and Democratic Values’ and ‘Developments in whistleblowing research 2015’ and a special issue of the E-Journal of International and Comparative Labour Studies were produced. Thus this Ebook, which uses material presented at the June 2017 IWRN conference held in Oslo, maintains the network’s tradition of disseminating papers relevant to research in the field.
In this Ebook the chapters are sequenced as follows. The first two chapters focus on various aspects of the Norwegian experience of whistleblowing, and the third chapter examines the gap in protection afforded to UN whistleblowers. The following two chapters look at the importance of culture both generally and in particular sectors, namely health and social care. The final chapter explores how trade unions might use their voice to engage in the whistleblowing process.
In her chapter entitled ‘Norwegian whistleblowing research: A case of Nordic exceptionalism?’ Brita Bjørkelo discusses some experiences from Norwegian whistleblowing research in the past twenty years and how this seems to be both similar and different from other countries’ results. The so called ‘Norwegian uniqueness’ is discussed in the context of the notion of exceptionalism. She concludes that, although some Norwegian results may be exceptional, others are more diverse and in a way similar to findings from other countries. Thus the description ‘same but different’ may be appropriate.
In the chapter entitled ‘Legal provisions and democracy: Freedom of expression and whistleblowing in Norwegian workplaces’, Sissel Trygstad, Anne Mette Ødegård and Elin Svarstad observe that the right to speak out can be morally justified on the basis of two different but interrelated arguments: democracy and efficiency. From a comparative perspective, Norway offers one of the strongest protections for freedom of expression in Europe. This freedom is regulated by the Constitution as well as the Working Environment Act and applies to workers in both public and private sectors. Their chapter discusses how these laws operate in practice and explains how recent amendments seem not to have resulted in the changes intended by the legislators. In ‘The UN whistleblowing protection gap: implications for governance, human rights and risk management’ Caroline Hunt-Matthes and Peter Anthony Gallo profile the challenges confronting the UN Ethics mechanisms charged with whistleblower protection in the period 2006-2016. They consider the evidence of the failure and tainted independence of these mechanisms and assert that they have resulted in declining numbers of UN staff claiming protection under the whistleblowing arrangements. Unsurprisingly, they conclude that this situation creates unnecessary risk for the UN.
Using the title ‘Enhancing whistleblower protection: It’s all about the culture’, Stelios Andreadakis argues that emphasis needs to be given to corporate culture so that existing cultures of silence coupled with dismissal and retaliation practices are replaced by a new culture based on honesty, integrity and transparency. He asserts that only by changing the mind-set in the boardrooms of modern corporations will whistleblowing achieve its purpose as an effective accountability mechanism. Drawing inspiration from the UK Bribery Act 2010, he makes practical recommendations for this change of corporate culture to be initiated and for companies to be actively involved in this process.
In her chapter entitled ‘Denial and paradox: conundrums of whistleblowing and the need for a new style of leadership in health and social care’, Angie Ash examines two conceptual conundrums – paradox and denial – found consistently in international whistleblowing research and outlines a model of ethical leadership to counter these. She develops a model of leadership in antithesis to Ludwig and Longenecker’s concept of the ‘Bathsheba Syndrome’ i.e where organisational leaders enjoy power and privilege that firewall them from exigencies and compromises subordinates routinely make, and which may result in dangerous organisational practices becoming normalised. Characteristics of an ‘Anti-Bathsheba’ model of leadership are proposed as the means by which paradox and denial in whistleblowing can be countered.
Finally, Arron Phillips addresses the question ‘How might trade unions use their voice to engage in the whistleblowing process?’ He asserts that, although there are some contextual differences, the voice mechanisms in the UK, Norway and The Netherlands are comparable. He concludes by suggesting how trade unions might use these mechanisms. At an individual level they can support whistleblowers with individual voice options. At regulator level they can work with organisations to improve understanding and conditions for whistleblowers and at public level they can use their voice to inform the wider community about the whistleblower’s particular concern or treatment.
Keywords: business ethics, governance, trade union, whistleblowing, workplace culture
JEL Classification: J53, J59, K29, K39, M12, M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation