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Bringing cyber loafers back on the right track

Pablo Zoghbi‐Manrique‐de‐Lara (Department of Economics and Management, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain)
Arístides Olivares‐Mesa (Department of Economics and Management, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 24 August 2010




Despite the use in companies of policy and control mechanisms to tackle cyberloafing, these practices are still popular among employees. The purpose of this paper is to suggest that control systems alone are unable to deter cyberloafing because they are eventually perceived as a sort of “ineffectual dog that may bark a lot, but ultimately does not bite.” Instead, control systems are only expected to deter cyberloafing if employees view them as leading to punitive consequences.


First, given the easy visibility of cyberloafing activities, the paper proposes a design for control systems that not only includes perceptions of organizational control (monitoring), but also perceptions of the supervisor's physical proximity (proximity). Data are collected from university administration and services personnel, whose main working tool is the computer. They all have internet access and individual e‐mail, a stable physical location at work, and a supervisor. Multiple hierarchical regressions are used to test whether in reality proximity and monitoring are unable to decrease cyberloafing unless they interact together with employees' fear of formal punishment (punishment).


Only by interacting together and with punishment are proximity and monitoring able to deter cyber loafers from engaging in cyberloafing.

Research limitations/implications

The study could suffer from mono‐method/source bias, and the university that supplied the sample has certain job conditions similar to those of the public sector, thus raising concerns about the generalizability of the results.

Practical implications

The results suggest that organizational managers should not only ensure that control systems are able to discover incidents and identify the perpetrators, but they should also follow them up with punitive consequences. Only if control systems are implemented together with punishment are they effective in eliciting perceived certainty among cyber loafers of being caught and sanctioned, and hence in “bringing them back on the right track.”


Despite the extensive use of control systems to deter cyberloafing, there are no previous empirical studies that have examined and supported the negative interacting effects of proximity, monitoring, and punishment on cyberloafing.



Zoghbi‐Manrique‐de‐Lara, P. and Olivares‐Mesa, A. (2010), "Bringing cyber loafers back on the right track", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 110 No. 7, pp. 1038-1053.



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