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The whistle‐blowing zone: applying Barnard's insights to a modern ethical dilemma

The whistle‐blowing zone: applying Barnard's insights to a modern ethical dilemma Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to apply Chester Barnard's ideas about authority in organizations to the modern phenomenon of “whistle‐blowing” and highlight insights that can advance contemporary theory in business ethics. The paper coins a new term “the whistle‐blowing zone,” and uses it as a way to capitalize on Barnard's insights and to offer a conceptual framework that can help business ethics scholars explain the phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach – By comparing and contrasting Barnard's ideas with contemporary research, the authors argue that he provides a number of insights that can advance modern business ethical theory and research. Implications about the origin and mechanism of whistle‐blowing are discussed. Findings – First, it is found that Barnard's theory of authority, specifically the notion of a “zone of indifference” is applicable to the modern phenomenon of whistle‐blowing. Second, the paper coins a new term “the whistle‐blowing zone,” to explain why and how whistle‐blowing occurs. Finally, the paper develops a conceptual framework to capitalize on Barnard's insight to explain the phenomenon of “whistle‐blowing.” Originality/value – This paper is the first paper to examine Barnard's writings in the context of the modern business issue of whistle‐blowing. It is believed that the study of business ethics can be enhanced by applying Barnard's work. His concept of authority in formal organizations actually provides the theoretical foundation to examine and understand the phenomenon of whistle‐blowing in ways that have not appeared in the literature to date. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Management History Emerald Publishing

The whistle‐blowing zone: applying Barnard's insights to a modern ethical dilemma

Journal of Management History , Volume 13 (1): 10 – Jan 16, 2007

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1751-1348
DOI
10.1108/17511340710715151
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to apply Chester Barnard's ideas about authority in organizations to the modern phenomenon of “whistle‐blowing” and highlight insights that can advance contemporary theory in business ethics. The paper coins a new term “the whistle‐blowing zone,” and uses it as a way to capitalize on Barnard's insights and to offer a conceptual framework that can help business ethics scholars explain the phenomenon. Design/methodology/approach – By comparing and contrasting Barnard's ideas with contemporary research, the authors argue that he provides a number of insights that can advance modern business ethical theory and research. Implications about the origin and mechanism of whistle‐blowing are discussed. Findings – First, it is found that Barnard's theory of authority, specifically the notion of a “zone of indifference” is applicable to the modern phenomenon of whistle‐blowing. Second, the paper coins a new term “the whistle‐blowing zone,” to explain why and how whistle‐blowing occurs. Finally, the paper develops a conceptual framework to capitalize on Barnard's insight to explain the phenomenon of “whistle‐blowing.” Originality/value – This paper is the first paper to examine Barnard's writings in the context of the modern business issue of whistle‐blowing. It is believed that the study of business ethics can be enhanced by applying Barnard's work. His concept of authority in formal organizations actually provides the theoretical foundation to examine and understand the phenomenon of whistle‐blowing in ways that have not appeared in the literature to date.

Journal

Journal of Management HistoryEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 16, 2007

Keywords: Whistleblowing; Management history; Organizational behavior; Business ethics

References