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Academy of Management


Computer monitoring should not be seen as a way of gathering information about workers, per se, but rather as one part of a production and quality strategy that provides needed information to a diverse team of workers. In its most powerful and effective form. computer monitoring is the use of computers to collect. process, and provide feedback information about work with the intent of improving performance and developing employees. Unfortunately, computer monitoring has also been used to punish employees. Here, a study of a successful computer monitoring system at Hughes Aircraft Company is described. The study shows that computer monitoring can facilitate integrated production and quality control strategies withouf negative effects on employee quality of work life. Managers who wish to design and effectively use computer monitoring systems should: (1) Use the monitoring system to provide feedback data to the workforce-not to gather social information (e.g., time taken for bathroom breaks): (2) Determine the type of data that employees believe will help them and be willing to adapt the system as they get ideas about how to use the data; (3) Design a system that gathers integrated data-data that will allow for useful comparisons between, as well as within, specific tasks; and (4) Realize that computer monitoring is only as noxious as the management system itself.


Copyright © 1993 Academy of Management. Reprinted with permission.



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