Publication Details

Martin, B & Rifkin, W, The dynamics of employee dissent: whistleblowers and organizational jiu-jitsu, Public Organization Review: A Global Journal, 2004, 4(3), 221-238. Copyright Springer 2006. The original article is available here.


Whistleblowing is a form of organizational dissent that is rarely successful, instead usually leading to disaster for the whistleblower. Organizational theorists seldom have addressed the question of how to improve whistleblowers' strategies. A useful general perspective for doing this is to conceive of bureaucracies as authoritarian political systems. The concept of political jiu-jitsu, from the theory of nonviolent action, is adapted to organizational contexts and used to assess a range of tactics used by organizational elites against dissidents. The resulting implications for whistleblower strategies are assessed by comparison with standard recommendations offered by experienced whistleblower advisers.