Purpose: Guided by voice and leadership theory, this paper aims to articulate the underpinnings of upward defiance (competence deficiency; ignorance of concerns; structural gaps between echelons) and to describe the managerial actions that help depose those underpinnings. Design/methodology/approach: The paper analyzes 30 historic narrative accounts of actual mutinies. The journalistic accounts from bygone eras provide unparalleled insight into the basic dynamics of mutiny and provide novel insights into organizational defiance. Findings: The principal findings show that the underpinnings of mutiny in organizations derive from three foundations: disconnections between authority echelons, modes of addressing member disgruntlement, and the need for management to develop continuous competencies. Originality/value: The paper goes beyond reports of mutinies in the popular press and lore by applying the findings to modern organizations. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.