Whistle Blowing: A Message to Leaders and Managers; Comment on “Cultures of Silence and Cultures of Voice: The Role of Whistleblowing in Healthcare Organizations”

Document Type : Commentary


MIT Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA


This comment argues that instead of worrying about the pros and cons of whistleblowing one should focus on the more general problem of the failure of upward communication around safety and quality problems and consider what leaders and managers must do to stimulate subordinates to communicate and reward such communication. The article analyzes why safety failures occur and introduces the concept of practical drift and adaptive moves as necessary for systemic safety to be understood and better handled. It emphasizes the key role of senior leadership in creating a climate in which critical upward communication will become more likely.




Watch the Video Summary here



Main Subjects



  1. Mannion R, Davies HT. Cultures of silence and cultures of voice: the role of whistleblowing in healthcare organizations. Int J Health Policy Manag.  2015;4(8):503-505. doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2015.120
  2. Schein EH. Humble Inquiry. San Francisco: Berrett/Kohler; 2013.
  3. Schein EH. Humble Consulting. San Francisco: Berrett/Kohler; 2016. [In Press].
  4. Johnson J, Haskell H, Barach P.  Case studies in patient safety. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2016.
  5. Snook SA. Friendly Fire.  Princeton University Press; 2000.
  6. Gerstein M. Flirting with Disaster.  New York: Union Square Press; 2008.