Whistleblowing and Bullying at Work: The Role of Leaders

Brita Bjørkelo, Cecilie Thorsen, Premilla D’Cruz, Eva Gemzøe Mikkelsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEncyclopedia chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter discusses the role of leaders in regard to whistleblowing and workplace bullying with some examples from clinical practice. In whistleblowing research, the role of leaders has been described from the earliest literature, yet the focus on the dual role of leaders as both complaint recipients and whistleblowers themselves is rather new. This suggests a turn from investigating individual whistleblowers to studying the phenomenon of whistleblowing in all its complexity, including the role of leaders. In workplace bullying research, some studies have pointed towards a similar shift emphasizing the importance of investigating leadership, work environment and ethical infrastructure. This chapter’s investigation into the role of leaders in the whistleblowing–bullying interface is based on a contextual stand yet also strives for a holistic perspective, alluding to the relevance of organizational governance. The chapter starts with a broader view of whistleblowing at work and then narrows down to retaliation and bullying after whistleblowing and the role of leaders in this interface. The chapter begins by presenting the context of leaders in the whistleblowing–bullying interface, followed by an elaboration of the extant literature on the role of leaders in relation to whistleblowing. Available findings regarding the organizational, emotional and cultural context of leaders are discussed next, with further inputs from studies into retaliation and bullying, including the role of leaders. In the last part of the chapter, the focus is on targets’ perceptions and descriptions of the role of leaders collected in the time after the whistle is blown, when these issues are raised as a part of treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpecial topics and particular occupations, professions and sectors
EditorsPremilla D'Cruz, Ernesto Noronha, Loraleigh Keashly, Stacy Tye-Williams
Number of pages34
Publication date2018
ISBN (Electronic)9789811051548
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
SeriesHandbooks of Workplace Bullying, Emotional Abuse and Harassment


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