Business and Management INK

Snowden and … Sophocles? Whistleblowing in Antigone

April 21, 2014 1158
483px-Antigoneleigh

Frederic Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

While figures like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange have been in the public eye in recent years, whistleblowers are not a new concept. Qui tam was a common law practice that began in thirteen century England that allowed an individual to bring charges against an entity who violated the law and receive compensation from the penalties charged against the guilty party, a system Continental Congress adopted before the Revolutionary War had even ended. Author Alessia Contu looks even further back in history for a fuller portrait of whistleblowers in her article “Rationality and Relationality in the Process of Whistleblowing: Recasting Whistleblowing Through Readings of Antigone” from Journal of Management Inquiry.

The abstract:

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointReporting wrongdoing is seen as desirable to fight illegal practices, but whistleblowers often suffer retaliations and are in need of protection. Overall, whistleblowers engender strong reactions and are cast either as saints or rats. I consider why whistleblowers are seen as unsettling and ambivalent figures by exploring the analogy between Antigone, the Sophoclean heroine, and whistleblowers. These reflections reconfigure the rationality and relationality of the process of whistleblowing. The rationality of the whistleblower is singular and not easily subsumed into universalizing norms which explains some of the limits reached by the empiricist pro-social research agenda. The relationality of the process of whistleblowing indicates that the reactions of those who hear the whistle are as important. This open up to an appreciation of the ethical and political valence of the process of whistleblowing and highlights a number of counter-intuitive and interesting issues in its synchronic and diachronic dimension.

Read “Rationality and Relationality in the Process of Whistleblowing: Recasting Whistleblowing Through Readings of Antigone” from Journal of Management Inquiry for free by clicking here. Want to keep up on all the latest from Journal of Management Inquiry? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

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