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Meaning Making: Learning in Whistleblowing Open Access

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Meaning Making: Learning in Whistle BlowingThis research study, utilizing qualitative interviews, examined the lived experience of nine successful qui tam whistle blowers. Faced with multiple disorienting dilemmas surrounding the whistle blowing event, each participant resolved those challenges with the skills developed over a life of achievement. Through meaning making processes of storytelling and reflection, these whistle blowers reaffirmed their sense of self-efficacy and their personal history of accomplishment. In the context of O'Connor's definition of meaning making having both cognitive and emotional components, participants found vindication in the assertion, "I won." All but one were disappointed in how little they changed the organization perpetrating the fraud--considering the personal price they paid to pursue the case. All expressed amazement at how little the government recovered in settlement. Participants felt that the system was "stacked" against them and took pride in the fact that they had prevailed despite overwhelming resources opposing them. Motivations for blowing the whistle included the belief of being abused or mistreated by the organization or perpetrators of the fraud, as well as an apprehension about being seen as complicit or culpable in that fraud. Upon reflection, participants expressed altruism as motivation. As the cases developed with the attorneys, financial reward became a driving motivation for pursuit of the case.The research examined qui tam whistle blowing from the perspective of the whistle blower, one that has not previously been discussed in the literature.

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