You are here: Home Contents V7 N1 V7N1_Posey.html
Personal tools

When computer monitoring backfires: Privacy invasions and organizational injustice as precursors to computer abuse



Full text

Journal of Information System Security
Volume 7, Number 1 (2011)
Pages 2447
ISSN 1551-0123
Clay Posey — University of Arkansas at Little Rock, USA
Rebecca J. Bennett — Louisiana Tech University, USA
Tom L. Roberts — Louisiana Tech University, USA
Paul Benjamin Lowry — City University of Hong Kong, China
Information Institute Publishing, Washington DC, USA




This manuscript examines the unintended consequences that organizational computer monitoring can foster within the firm. We apply justice and reactance theories to explain why monitoring can actually increase the occurrence of detrimental organizational behaviors. Our model suggests monitoring activities that invade employees’ privacy lead to perceived injustices, which provoke destructive behavior by employees. Empirical results obtained from 439 survey respondents employed in the banking, finance, and insurance industries provide support for most of our hypotheses. Computer monitoring was found to increase internal computer abuse but not antisocial behaviors. Privacy invasions resulting from the monitoring activities were related to perceptions of procedural injustice, which in turn influenced distributive injustice perceptions. Both injustices acted as direct precursors to internal computer abuse, but only distributive injustice was a significant antecedent to antisocial behavior. We discuss these findings and their limitations in the context of modern organizations that are inundated with information-security responsibilities.




Reactance Theory, Fairness Theory, Computer Monitoring, Computer Abuse, Privacy Invasion, Procedural Justice, Distributive Justice, Antisocial Behavior




Adams, JS (1965) Inequity in Social Exchange. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Berkowitz L, Ed), Academic Press, Inc., New York.

Aiello JR and Kolb KJ (1995) Electronic Performance Monitoring and Social Context: Impact on Productivity and Stress. Journal of Applied Psychology 80(3), 339-353.

Alder GS and Ambrose ML (2005) An Examination of the Effect of Computerized Performance Monitoring Feedback on Monitoring Fairness, Performance, and Satisfaction. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 97(2), 161-177.

Alge BJ (2001) Effects of Computer Surveillance on Perceptions of Privacy and Procedural Justice. Journal of Applied Psychology 86(4), 797-804.

Alge BJ, et al. (2006a) Information Privacy in Organizations: Empowering Creative and Extrarole Performance. The Journal of applied psychology 91(1), 221-32.

Alge BJ, et al. (2006b) An Identity-Based Model of Organizational Monitoring: Integrating Information Privacy and Organizational Justice. In Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management (Martocchio JJ, Ed), pp 71-135, JAI Press, Oxford, UK.

Allen VL and Greenberger DB (1980) Destruction and Perceived Control. In Advances in Environmental Psychology: Applications of Personal Control (Baum A and Singer JE, Eds), pp 85–109, Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.

AMA and ePolicy (2007) 2007 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey. AMA/ePolicy Institute.

Ambrose ML and Alder GS (2000) Designing, Implementing, and Utilizing Computerized Performance Monitoring: Enhancing Organizational Justice. Research in Personnel And Human Resources Management 18, 187-220.

Anandarajan M (2002) Profiling Web Usage in the Workplace: A Behavior-Based Artificial Intelligence Approach. Journal of Management Information Systems 19(1), 243-266.

Anderson JC (1978) The Validity of Haire's Shopping List Projective Technique. Journal of Marketing Research 15(4), 644-9.

Anderson JC and Gerbing DW (1988) Structural Equation Modeling in Practice: A Review and Recommended Two-Step Approach. Psychological bulletin 103(3), 411-423.

Ariss SS (2002) Computer Monitoring: Benefits and Pitfalls Facing Management. Information & Management 39(7), 553-558.

Bagchi K and Udo G (2003) An Analysis of the Growth of Computer and Internet Security Breaches. Communications of the Association for Information Systems 12, 684-700.

Bennett RJ (1998) Perceived Powerlessness as a Cause of Employee Deviance. In Dysfunctional Behavior in Organizations: Violent and Deviant Behavior (Griffin RW, O'Leary-Kelly AM and Collins JM, Eds), pp. 221-239, JAI Press, Stamford, CT.

Bennett RJ and Robinson SL (2000) Development of a Measure of Workplace Deviance. Journal of Applied Psychology 85(3), 349-360.

Bennett RJ and Robinson SL (2003) The Past, Present, and Future of Workplace Deviance Research. In Organizational Behavior: The State of the Science (Greenberg J, Ed), pp 247-281, Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ.

Bies RJ (1993) Privacy and Procedural Justice in Organizations. Social Justice Research 6(1), 69-86.

Bies RJ and Moag JS (1986) Interactional Justice: Communication Criteria of Fairness. In Research on Negotiations in Organizations (Bazerman MH, Lewicki R and Sheppard B, Eds), pp 43-55, JAI Press, Greenwich, CT.

Birnbaum MH (2004) Human Research and Data Collection Via the Internet. Annual Reviews of Psychology 55, 803-832.

Blader SL, et al. (2001) Procedural Justice and Retaliation in Organizations: Comparing Cross-Nationally the Importance of Fair Group Processes. International Journal of Conflict Management 12(4), 295-311.

Brehm SS and Brehm JW (1981) Psychological Reactance: A Theory of Freedom and Control. Academic Press.

Cavusoglu H, et al. (2004) The Effect of Internet Security Breach Announcements on Market Value: Capital Market Reactions for Breached Firms and Internet Security Developers. International Journal of Electronic Commerce 9(1), 70-104.

Cheng HK, et al. (1997) To Purchase or to Pirate Software: An Empirical Study. Journal of Management Information Systems 13(4), 49-60.

Choobineh J, et al. (2007) Management of Information Security: Challenges and Research Directions. Communications of the Association for Information Systems 20(1), 57.

Colquitt JA, et al. (2001) Justice at the Millennium: A Meta-Analytic Review of 25 Years of Organizational Justice Research. Journal of Applied Psychology 86(3), 425-445.

D'Arcy J and Hovav A (2007) Deterring Internal Information Systems Misuse. Communications of the ACM 50(10), 113-117.

D'Arcy J, et al. (2009) User Awareness of Security Countermeasures and Its Impact on Information Systems Misuse: A Deterrence Approach. Information Systems Research 20(1), 79-98.

Dhillon G and Moores S (2001) Computer Crimes: Theorizing About the Enemy Within. Computers & Security 20(8), 715-723.

Dunn J and Schweitzer ME (2005) Why Good Employees Make Unethical Decisions: The Role of Reward Systems, Organizational Culture, and Managerial Oversight. In Managing Organizational Deviance. Thousand Oaks, London and New Delhi: Sage Publications (Kidwell RE and Martin CL, Eds), pp 39-68, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Dupré KE and Barling J (2006) Predicting and Preventing Supervisory Workplace Aggression. Journal of occupational health psychology 11(1), 13-26.

Fisher RJ (1993) Social Desirability Bias and the Validity of Indirect Questioning. Journal of Consumer Research 20(2), 303-315.

Folger R and Bies RJ (1989) Managerial Responsibilities and Procedural Justice. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal 2(2), 79-90.

Folger R, et al. (1979) Effects of “Voice” and Peer Opinions on Responses to Inequity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 37(12), 2253-2261.

Fornell C and Larcker DF (1981) Evaluating Structural Equation Models with Unobservable Variables and Measurement Error. Journal of Marketing Research 18(1), 39-50.

Fox S and Spector PE (1999) A Model of Work Frustration-Aggression. Journal of Organizational behavior 20(6), 915-931.

Fox S and Spector PE (2006) The Many Roles of Control in a Stressor-Emotion Theory of Counterproductive Work Behavior. In Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, pp 171–201, Emerald Group.

Fraley RC (2007) Using the Internet for Personality Research: What Can Be Done, How to Do It, and Some Concerns. In Handbook of Research Methods in Personality Psychology (Robins RW, Fraley RC and Krueger RF, Eds), pp 130-148, Guilford, New York.

George JF (1996) Computer-Based Monitoring: Common Perceptions and Empirical Results. MIS Quarterly 20(4), 459-480.

Giacalone RA and Greenberg J (1997) Antisocial Behavior in Organizations. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Greenberg J (2000) Promote Procedural Justice to Enhance Acceptance of Work Outcomes. In The Blackwell Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behavior (Locke EA, Ed), pp 181-195, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA.

Greenberg J and Folger R (1983) Procedural Justice, Participation, and the Fair Process Effect in Groups and Organizations. In Basic Group Processes (Paulus PB, Ed), pp 235-256, Springer-Verlag, New York.

Greenberger DB and Strasser S (1986) Development and Application of a Model of Personal Control in Organizations. Academy of Management Review 11(1), 164-177.

Hair JF, et al. (2006) Multivariate Data Analysis. Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Halpern D, et al. (2008) Management and Legal Issues Regarding Electronic Surveillance of Employees in the Workplace. Journal of Business Ethics 80(2), 175-180.

Hershcovis MS and Barling J (2007) Towards a Relational Model of Workplace Aggression. In Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace: Management Challenges and Symptoms (Langan-Fox J, Cooper CL and Klimoski RJ, Eds), pp 268-284, Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc., Cheltenham, UK.

Jaworski BJ and MacInnis DJ (1989) Marketing Jobs and Management Controls: Toward a Framework. Journal of Marketing Research 26(4), 406-419.

Jones DA (2009) Getting Even with One's Supervisor and One's Organization: Relationships among Types of Injustice, Desires for Revenge, and Counterproductive Work Behaviors. Journal of Organizational Behavior 30(4), 525-542.

Lasprogata G, et al. (2004) Regulation of Electronic Employee Monitoring: Identifying Fundamental Principles of Employee Privacy through a Comparative Study of Data Privacy Legislation in the European Union, United States and Canada. Stanford Technology Law Review 4, 24.

Leventhal GS (1980) What Should Be Done with Equity Theory? New Approaches to the Study of Fairness in Social Relationships. In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Berkowitz L and Walster W, Eds), pp. 27-55, Plenum Press, New York.

Lim VKG (2002) The It Way of Loafing on the Job: Cyberloafing, Neutralizing and Organizational Justice. Journal of Organizational behavior 23, 675-694.

Lim VKG and Teo TSH (2005) Prevalence, Perceived Seriousness, Justification and Regulation of Cyberloafing in Singapore an Exploratory Study. Information & Management 42(8), 1081-1093.

Lind EA and van den Bos K (2002) When Fairness Works: Toward a General Theory of Uncertainty Management. In Research in Organizational Behavior, pp 181-223.

M.A. Bv (2008) Braun Vs. M.A. Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division (A-4922-06T4)

Marcus-Newhall A, et al. (2000) Displaced Aggression Is Alive and Well: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78(4), 670-689

Martin K and Freeman RE (2003) Some Problems with Employee Monitoring. Journal of Business Ethics 43(4), 353-361.

Mitchell MS and Ambrose ML (2007) Abusive Supervision and Workplace Deviance and the Moderating Effects of Negative Reciprocity Beliefs. Journal of Applied Psychology 92(4), 1159-1168.

Moore AP, et al. (2008) The "Big Picture" Of Insider It Sabotage across U.S. Critical Infrastructures. Software Engineering Institute: Carnegie Mellon University.

Moores TT and Chang CJ (2006) Ethical Decision Making in Software Piracy: Initial Development and Test of a Four-Component Model. Management Information Systems Quarterly 30(1), 10. 

Nunnally JC (1978) Psychometric Theory. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Podsakoff PM, et al. (2003) Common Method Biases in Behavioral Research: A Critical Review of the Literature and Recommended Remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology 88(5), 879-903. 

Richardson R (2007) Csi Computer Crime & Security Survey. Computer Security Institute.

Robertson D and Joselyn R (1974) Projective Techniques in Research. Journal of Advertising Research 14(10), 27-31.

Robinson SL and Bennett RJ (1995) A Typology of Deviant Workplace Behaviors: A Multidimensional Scaling Study. Academy of Management Journal 38(2), 555-572.

Robinson SL and Greenberg J (1998) Employees Behaving Badly: Dimensions, Determinants and Dilemmas in the Study of Workplace Deviance. In Trends in Organizational Behavior (Rousseau DM and Cooper CL, Eds), pp 1-30, Wiley, New York.

Robinson SL and O'Leary-Kelly AM (1998) Monkey See, Monkey Do: The Influence of Work Groups on the Antisocial Behavior of Employees. Academy of Management Journal 41(6), 658-672.

SecurityFocus (2009) Security-Software Market Shrugs Off Economy.

Sewell G and Barker JR (2006) Coercion Versus Care: Using Irony to Make Sense of Organizational Surveillance. Academy of Management Review 31(4), 1-24.

Skarlicki DP and Folger R (1997) Retaliation in the Workplace: The Roles of Distributive, Procedural, and Interactional Justice. Journal of Applied Psychology 82(3), 434-443.

Stanton JM (2000) Reactions to Employee Performance Monitoring: Framework, Review, and Research Directions. Human Performance 13(1), 85-113.

Stone EF and Stone DL (1990) Privacy in Organizations: Theoretical Issues, Research Findings and Protection Mechanisms. In Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, pp 349-411.

Straub DW (1990) Effective Is Security. Information Systems Research 1(3), 255-276.

Thibaut J and Walker L (1975) Procedural Justice: A Psychological Analysis. L. Erlbaum Associates.

Thibaut J and Walker L (1978) A Theory of Procedure. California Law Review 66(3), 541-566.

Tyler TR and Bies RJ (1990) Beyond Formal Procedures: The Interpersonal Context of Procedural Justice. In Applied Social Psychology and Organizational Settings: An Organizational Justice Perspective (Carroll

J, Ed), pp 77-98, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.

Van den Bos K (2005) What Is Responsible for the Fair Process Effect? In Handbook of Organizational Justice (Greenberg J and Colquitt JA, Eds), pp 273-300, Taylor & Francis, Inc.

Vardi Y (2001) The Effects of Organizational and Ethical Climates on Misconduct at Work. Journal of Business Ethics 29(4), 325-337.

Zweig D and Webster J (2002) Where Is the Line between Benign and Invasive? An Examination of Psychological Barriers to the Acceptance of Awareness Monitoring Systems. Journal of Organizational behavior 23(5), 605-633.