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Be prepared after you blow the whistle

This article outlines the consequences that whistleblowers face after having blown the whistle, focusing on workplace bullying, drawing parallels to health issues that occur after traumatic events.

Factors such as tone from the top, accountability are decisive whether the whistleblower will report misconduct. After reporting unethical behavior or misconducts, whistleblowers attain the phase of post whistleblowing, which often results in retaliation from co-workers / supervisors. Protection from bullying is not often ensured as many prominent whistleblower cases have shown. The event itself can be qualified as traumatic, often causing the whistleblower to face depression, anxiety attacks, only to name a few.

The article focusses on health issues as well as from a clinical perspective providing suggestions to combat the retaliation, such as raising awareness about whistleblowing, investigation the report and providing therapeutic support for the whistleblower.



– This paper aims to present directions for future research by linking the academic fields of workplace bullying and whistleblowing together. This article also suggests implications as to how to deal with the health consequences that can develop after such workplace experiences.


– The paper describes empirical research on the link between whistleblowing and workplace bullying, and suggests how to deal with the health consequences that develop in relation to workplace bullying after whistleblowing.


– Empirical research has documented the link between whistleblowing and workplace bullying and the devastating effects on health that may follow (e.g. depression and symptoms analogous to post traumatic stress). Implications for practice are as follows: first, to provide clear examples of unwanted workplace behavior; and second, to help clinicians to gain a balance between the client's need to re‐tell and the need for psychological treatment.

Research limitations/implications

– Future studies on workplace bullying are encouraged to be aware of the link to potential previous whistleblowing, and to study therapeutic interventions for employees exposed to bullying, and who also have reported wrongdoing at work.

Practical implications

– The practical implications are to provide clear examples of unwanted workplace behavior, and to balance the need for re‐telling against the need for treatment for possible depression and trauma.


– This paper provides valuable information for researchers, practitioners and clinicians in the field of workplace behavior in general and in the field of managerial psychology in particular.


Brita Bjørkelo, “Workplace bullying after whistleblowing: Future research and implications”, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 28(3), 306-323 (2013).


Author : Brita Bjørkelo

28 Nov 2014

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Institution(s): Deloitte Forensic, Vienna, Austria. Research field: Whistleblowing

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