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



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Journal of Information Systems Security
Volume 7, Number 1 (2011)
Pages 2447
ISSN 1551-0123 (Print)
ISSN 1551-0808 (Online)
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




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