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Most of us are likely at some point to observe wrongdoing in our organizations, and some of us will blow the whistle to someone with the authority to put a stop to the wrongdoing. Or we may be managers, inspectors, or auditors who serve as the official ‘complaint recipient’ when one of our colleagues wants to report wrongdoing in the organization. Whether we blow the whistle or are tasked with cleaning up after someone else does so, we are better off knowing in advance how the whistleblowing process usually plays out. In this article we discuss the pragmatic implications of 30 years of systematic research about whistleblowing: who does it and when, and why they choose to report the wrongdoing internally (within the organization) or externally (to outsiders). To avoid external whistleblowing, which entails all sorts of costs for the organization, we recommend that managers take clear steps: investigate the allegations, make the results of the investigation known to those affected, correct the problem if one is found, and avoid reprisal against whistleblowers. These actions can increase the chance that information about organizational wrongdoing stays inside the organization, where it may be remedied, instead of being made public.
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