Richardson's Study Finds Organizational Whistleblowing Can Significantly Harm Families | Communication Studies
June 15, 2022

Richardson's Study Finds Organizational Whistleblowing Can Significantly Harm Families

Dr. Brian Richardson recently published his study "'Death threats don't just affect you, they affect your family': Investigating the Impact of Whistleblowing on Family Identity," in the journal Management Communication Quarterly. For this research project, Dr. Richardson interviewed 15 whistleblowers and 16 family members of whistleblowers in order to investigate how the whistleblowing process affected families, particularly family identities. He found the whistleblowing process was typically so traumatic its effects spilled over from the workplace into the personal lives of the whistleblowers. Dr. Richardson recognized three types of families emerged from the whistleblowing process: affirmed families, wounded families, and fragmented families. He linked these identities to the social support processes and boundary management behaviors whistleblowers and their family members engaged in during the whistleblowing experience. With regard to the study, Dr. Richardson noted "We all owe a gratitude of debt to the types of whistleblowers I interviewed for this research. They make significant financial and personal sacrifices in order to expose unethical behavior that other people ignore or rationalize. And, they do so at great cost to their families in many cases." Dr. Richardson hopes this study can provide prospective whistleblowers strategies for navigating this experience while preserving their families. Dr. Richardson's article is linked here: