I Was Just Doing My Job! Evolution, Corruption, and Public Relations in Interviews with Government Whistleblowers


This paper addresses public sector communication by exploring the role of government whistleblowers. It argues for the need to reconnect voices by creating platforms from which whistleblowers can speak without fear of retribution for the betterment of society. The paper presents 13 in-depth interviews with whistleblowers who worked for governmental entities in the United States or who worked as contractors to U.S. government entities. The goal was to understand their stories, including why they blew the whistle, how they blew the whistle, how whistleblowing affected their relationships with their employers, what role public relations executives and practitioners played in their whistleblowing experience, and how public relations executives and practitioners could interact more productively with whistleblowers. Four of the five theories explained some of the dynamics of whistleblowing: Resource dependence perspective explained the role of upper management in relying on wrongdoing; normalization of corruption theory explained attempts to conscript new employees into corrupt practices; justice theory explained the sense of betrayal felt by employees who tried to correct wrongdoing; and relationship management further explained the negative impact of retaliation on the relationships between whistleblowers and their employers. However, evolutionary theory explained all aspects of whistleblowing in terms of Darwinian natural selection.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v13i2p1042

Keywords: Evolutionary Theory; Justice Theory; Normalization of Corruption; Organization-Public Relationships; Public Relations; Relationship Management; Resource Dependence Perspective; Whistleblower; Whistle-blower; Whistleblowing


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