Social and technical aspects of electronic monitoring: To protect and to serve

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Prentice Hall


While productivity measurement and performance review could be considered as starting points for employee development, most of the literature on electronic monitoring discusses strong concerns related to more negative outcomes, such as employee privacy and stress. It seems that current organizational use of electronic monitoring (defined here as the practice of collecting information on employee behavior through computers, telephones, or other electronic systems) is more about protection, and less about service.

Protection and service do not have to result from separate systems. Protection in the discussion to follow is largely focused on employee supervision, employee evaluation, and the like. This same information can be used for service. That is, to improve employee welfare through performance tracking with an eye to correctly tracking for bonuses, tracking of work process for the purpose of identifying improvement areas, etc. In general, the two approaches of protection and service can also be thought of as enforcement versus learning.

This chapter is written to two audiences: First, to managers in situations where electronic monitoring is a tool for managing performance or maintaining security; and second, to employees looking to better understand the rationale for this monitoring and how to apply monitoring for their own benefit. My goal is to provide a general overview of electronic monitoring and to suggest that there is much more to be gained from considering service versus protection.

Chapter of

Computers in Society: Privacy, Ethics & the Internet


Joey F. George

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