Rational loyalty and whistleblowing: The South African context

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Whistleblowers often pay a heavy price for exposing what they perceive to be organizational wrongdoing. Based on 18 narrative interviews with South African whistleblowers, this article considers the contradictory nature of whistleblowing by exploring the role of loyalty, trust and betrayal in explaining the retaliation that whistleblowers receive. It concludes that whistleblowing can only achieve its aims of addressing organizational wrongdoing without high costs for the whistleblower and the organization if organizational loyalty is reconceptualized as rational loyalty. This entails a consideration of the institutionalization of whistleblowing as authorized disclosure, how this could lead to a more rational approach to the understanding of the values of the organization and to what extent such an approach is feasible under the present circumstances in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)904-921
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Sociology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • Betrayal
  • Loyalty
  • Trust
  • Whistleblowing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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