Morality of principle versus morality of loyalty: The case of whistleblowing

Tina Uys, Anton Senekal


whistleblowing involves the unauthorised disclosure of organisational wrongdoing by an employee (or former employee) to those who are perceived to be in a position to act on this information. when considering whether to disclose such information, whistleblowers confront the conflicting demands of the morality of principle versus the morality of loyalty. The aim of this paper is to explore the dynamics involved in this moral dilemma. A typology reflecting the possible responses in managing such moral dilemmas is developed. Three dimensions related to wrongdoing, namely perceptions, extent of the wrongdoing and power relationships are also analysed. It is concluded that, although the conflicting demands of the morality of principle versus the morality of loyalty will always exist, there are measures that can be taken to limit the impact of these conflicts and in the long run even resolve them. In particular, if loyalty is reconceptualised as rational loyalty, the disclosure of perceived wrongdoing could more easily be interpreted as loyalty to the organisation as a whole. 


whistleblowing; business ethics; morality of principle; morality of loyalty; conformity; deviance

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