Whistleblower school: New data, videos and more for teachers

Search .edu sites for “whistleblower” and you get links to whistleblower reporting offices at universities. Search the academic literature and a robust body of whistleblower scholarship emerges.

For academics who want to add whistleblowing into their teaching, an Irish research team has set up a site to help. Led by Kate Kenny from NUI Galway, Ireland, the team offers videos, cases and slide shows. From their “Whistleblowing Impact” site.

We aim to change the terms of public debate on whistleblowing. There exists a persistent contradiction in how whistleblowers are perceived; on the one hand, they are acknowledged as a vital way in which corruption comes to light and yet, society does little to support the real-life struggles of the many whistleblowers who find themselves without a source of income and little prospect of finding work in their chosen career.

Our results provide empirical evidence that invites rethinking how we see and value whistleblowers, and how we can support them. Specific research questions included: 1) What are the costs of whistleblowing for those who leave their organization, both tangible and intangible? 2) What interventions can be developed that will provide support?, and 3) How can whistleblowing be reconceptualized in ways that emphasize the necessity of material and symbolic supports from society?


This summer, the group issued a report that made recommendations to “ensure whistleblowers’ survival post-disclosure. Existing supports available from society must be enhanced.” Clear here is the difference absence of some of the protection US whistleblower count on, like monetary rewards and anonymity. Still, there is much here for anyone interested in teaching whistleblower law.

From June report on “Post-disclosure Survival Strategies”

  1. Provide assistance with the financial costs incurred as a direct result of speaking up.
  2. Deliver support to reduce the impacts of whistleblowing (including loss of employment, legal costs and impacts on health).
  3. Provide support for appropriate and targeted career rehabilitation schemes.
  4. Make available assistance for engaging with media, legal and political supporters.
  5. Develop an international network for whistleblowers.
  6. Drive social and attitudinal change around whistleblowing.

They also identify areas for new research:

Future studies might include quantitative and qualitative analysis of post disclosure career paths, along with details on how and why blacklisting occurs. More fine-grained analysis of the kinds of retraining and education that benefit whistleblowers would be helpful. In addition, quantifying the costs to society is key; society loses out financially because of substantial detriment that whistleblowers experience as a result of retaliation.

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