A whistle-blower is by definition an attempt by a current or former employee to disclose alleged wrong doing from the organization.
This is often a moral dilemma facing the truth against a person’s loyalty to their organization.
When someone sees something wrong, they start off having two possible choices: Stay or Leave. Regardless of their choice, they then have two sub choices: tell someone, or keep quiet. If the person decides to tell they have two additional choices: tell someone inside the organization, or tell someone outside the organization.
The process most whistle-blowers go through is to start off by staying in the organization and choosing not to tell anyone. After a time, the employee may become disgruntled and decide to tell someone within their organization, but not often feel comfortable with the level of results. The employee would then often share the issues with someone from the outside, possibly a family member or close friend, but rarely enough to raise any issues. After enough time passes, the employee may become disgruntled enough to leave the organization and tell as many people outside the organization as possible.
Most organizations attempt to make a path available for whistle-blowers to express their concerns. The traditional method is to bring it to the attention of your immediate manager, but if the employee is on the outskirts of the organization, it may be difficult for the concern to properly effect the organization. Because of this, most organizations designate special procedures for HR, toll-free hotlines, anonymous communication, etc... However, even if an organization has all these methods available, some disrupt the path for whistle-blowing.
The perception of whistle-blowers in the past has been that they are tattle-tales complaining and whining. However in the last few years the perception has changed due to the Enron, FBI, and WorldCom whistle-blowers. Local and federal laws protect most whistle-blowers, but make sure the issue is documented thoroughly before making too many waves.