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Whistle Blowing In Society Essay

1242 words - 5 pages

The practice of individuals carrying out non-violent acts of protest against the perceived injustices and malpractices of large organisations or institutions has a long history that stretches back to the advent of the industrial revolution and beyond. The case of the Tolpuddle Martyrs(1) is an infamous case of public protest by a same disorganised group of farmer labourers against the harsh demands put upon them by a brutal and powerful band of land owners who had the support of the government of the day. The labours who started the protest endured great personal suffering as a result of their actions but such was the harshness and injustice of their treatment that it caused a massive public ...view middle of the document...

Most people would define whistle blowing as when a person or group of people within a particular organisation or institution chooses to publicly speak out in the interests of the public against the activities or policies of the same organisation or institution. Beyond this definition it is typically associated with the exposure of corruption or dangerous practices either by government departments or powerful private corporations.It should be noted at this point that the whistle blowing is commonly considered to be carried out as an act in the interests of public well being even though it typically results in some degree of hardship or personal misfortune for the person who carries it out, typical the person being dismissed from employment and even subject to legal prosecution.There are some common features in what is generally accepted to be a classic case of whistle blowing even though these are not always the case. These include:1)Whistle blowing is done by an ‘insider’, that being an employee or member of the organisation that is involved. There are many cases of external whistle blowing for example journalists expose scandal and malpractice on a daily basis but this is not generally considered as whistle blowing.2)The sole motivation of the whistle blower is always in the interests of the public good. It is debatable whether this is always the case, individuals can and have acted due to entirely self-interested reasons whether it is to air personal grievances or acting on grudges held against a particular institution.3)The act of whistle blowing always generates negative publicity for the organisation that is involved. This is certainly true but this does not necessarily mean that the institution accused is guilty of any misconduct or if it is found guilty is punished of takes measures to change its practices.There are numerous high profile examples of acts of whistle blowing with the following some of the most famous:In 1972 Stanley Adams(2), who was a high level executive with the company, alerted the European Commission to anti-competitive practices of the Swiss-based pharmaceutical giant Hoffmann-La Roche. The Commission fined Hoffmann for abuse of its dominant position in the bulk vitamin market but during the legal proceedings disclosed information that enabled Hoffmann to identify Adams, who was consequently arrested and convicted for unauthorised disclosure under Swiss law.In 1995 Jeffrey Wigand(3) an executive of Brown & Williamson exposed his company's practice of intentionally manipulating the effect of nicotine in cigarettes on the US television. He became known as the man who blew the whistle on Big Tobacco...

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