Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Profiling employees online: shifting public–private boundaries in organisational life

an article by Paula McDonald and Peter O'Connor (Stirling University, Scotland) and Paul Thompson (Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia) published in Human Resource Management Journal Volume 26 Issue 4 (November 2016)


Profiling involves the collection and use of online information about prospective and current employees to evaluate their fitness for and in the job. Workplace and legal studies suggest an expanded use of profiling and significant legal/professional implications for HRM practitioners, yet scant attention has been afforded to the boundaries of such practices.

In this study, profiling is framed as a terrain on which employees and employers assert asymmetrical interests.

Using survey data from large samples in Australia and the UK, the study investigates the prevalence and outcomes of profiling; the extent to which employees assert a right to privacy versus employer rights to engage in profiling; the extent to which organisations codify profiling practices; and employee responses in protecting online information.

The findings contribute to a small and emerging body of evidence addressing how social media conduct at work is reconstituting and reshaping the boundaries between public and private spheres.

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