Chapter 29 Whistleblowers counteracting institutional corruption in public administration
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Comprehending its mechanisms is key to preventing corruption and redressing damage caused by loss of public confidence in wrongdoing institutions. This chapter extends the concept of institutional corruption (IC), defined as deviation from organizational purpose with or without involving direct personal gain, to theorization of wrongdoing in public institutions. Such theorization overcomes the dichotomy between individual and structural factors, and highlights whistleblowers’ role in restoring organizations to their core institutional mission. It shows how organizations tasked with protecting the public interest may lose credibility if they engage in activities that are not illegal yet that jeopardize their core purpose. Using an illustrative example from the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, it demonstrates how whistleblowers’ disclosures are key to counteracting this by bringing organizations back on track, and concludes by arguing for whistleblower protection and reforms that enable them to speak up openly and without fear of retaliation by their employers.

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