n Journal of Public Administration - The role and importance of whistle-blowing in building organisational integrity in the public sector : a theoretical exposition

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Constant media exposure of organisational wrong-doing; unethical dealings and illegal practices have come to dominate the discussions on corporate governance. Such exposures are normally brought about by, among others, stake-holder activism and organisational employees. Usually, in such cases, employees have had prior knowledge about the organisational misdeeds, but chose not to, or were afraid to speak out. If they did speak out, then organisational retaliation would befall the individual whistle-blower without any attention to the issues raised; which tends to bring the organisational integrity into question. Numerous case studies and research initiatives have demonstrated that whistle-blowing can and does play a positive role in strengthening accountability mechanisms in organisations, and, by extension, helps build organisational integrity (Jos, 1991:105-118; Johnson & Kraft, 1990:849-874).

The aim of this article is to explore theoretically the nature of whistle-blowing as it transcends across legal, ethical / moral and social fields. This will be demonstrated using documented South African cases of organisational misfortunes. This exploration will be used to highlight aspects to be considered for a framework in building whistle-blower infrastructure as an integral component of the organisational integrity, both in public and private organisations.

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