Public Relations and Whistleblowing: Golden Handcuffs in Corporate Wrongdoing, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Public Relations and Whistleblowing

Golden Handcuffs in Corporate Wrongdoing, 1st Edition

By Cary A. Greenwood


240 pages

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Hardback: 9781138293779
pub: 2020-01-01
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There is a growing interest in corporate whistleblowing, but no comprehensive research has yet focused on public relations practice. Drawing on extensive research on Fortune 1000 and Wilshire 5000 corporations, this book reveals executives’ attitudes and relationships toward their organizations and its impact on whistleblowing.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it reveals that wrong-doing in corporations the privileges of power co-exist. Top-ranking public relations executives, who are mostly white and male, are more likely to be aware of wrongdoing but no more likely to blow the whistle, fundamentally due to their positive relationship with their employers. Using the new lens of evolutionary theory, this study explains whistleblowing, retaliation and relationships and in the light of the connection between whistleblowing behaviour and executives’ attitudes, it proposes a new theory of the phenomenon of golden handcuffs.

As public attitudes to corporations, CSR and transparency harden, these findings have serious implications for companies globally. Researchers, scholars and advanced students in public relations, organizational communication, corporate communication, corporate reputation, and CSR will find this book full of revealing insights.


"This book is a must read for public relations professionals, especially in the current environment. Whistleblowing is a complex, troubling and divisive issue at the core of practice—one of those uncomfortable issues many would rather not discuss. But given the importance of ethics in practice, and our increasingly transparent world, more discussion and education seem vital. My hope is this book spurs that discussion."

Dr Bruce Berger, Institute for Public Relations

Table of Contents

1.Overview of Whistleblowing 2. Prior Whistleblowing Research 3. Developing This Study 4. What This Study Found 5. Golden Handcuffs in the Fortune 1000 6. Do Corporate Communicators Differ From Public Relations Practitioners? 7. The Future of Whistleblowing Research in Public Relations.

About the Author

Dr. Cary. A. Greenwood, APR, Fellow PRSA, (Ph.D. University of Oregon), is assistant professor and public relations sequence head at Middle Tennessee State University, where she teaches crisis communication and public relations campaigns. She has more than 30 years’ experience in public relations, including eight years in corporate communications management for a Fortune 500 utility, seven years as public affairs director for a state natural resource agency, and two years in transportation management. Her research interests are whistleblowing, corporate social responsibility, and evolutionary theory. Dr. Greenwood has presented her research on evolutionary theory at the International Communication Association and the Society for Consumer Psychology, and she has published on evolutionary theory in the Journal of Public Relations Research and New Frontiers in branding: Attitudes, attachments, and relationships. She was named Arthur W. Page Legacy Scholar 2012-2013.

About the Series

Routledge New Directions in PR & Communication Research

Current academic thinking about public relations (PR) and related communication is a lively, expanding marketplace of ideas and many scholars believe that it’s time for its radical approach to be deepened. Routledge New Directions in PR & Communication Research is the forum of choice for this new thinking. Its key strength is its remit, publishing critical and challenging responses to continuities and fractures in contemporary PR thinking and practice, tracking its spread into new geographies and political economies. It questions its contested role in market-orientated, capitalist, liberal democracies around the world, and examines its invasion of all media spaces, old, new, and as yet unenvisaged.

The New Directions series has already published and commissioned diverse original work on topics such as:

  • PR’s influence on Israeli and Palestinian nation-building
  • PR's origins in the history of ideas
  • a Jungian approach to PR ethics and professionalism
  • global perspectives on PR professional practice;
  • PR as an everyday language for everyone
  • PR as emotional labour
  • PR as communication in conflicted societies, and
  • PR's relationships to cooperation, justice and paradox.

We actively invite new contributions and offer academics a welcoming place for the publication of their analyses of a universal, persuasive mindset that lives comfortably in old and new media around the world.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Business Ethics
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Public Relations
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Workplace Culture
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Corporate Governance
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies