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Exploring the dark-side of E-HRM: a study of social networking sites and deviant workplace behavior

Sunanda Nayak (Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, India)
Pawan Budhwar (Aston Business School, Birmingham, UK)
Vijay Pereira (People and Organisations, NEOMA Business School, Reims, France)
Ashish Malik (University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, Australia)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 23 September 2021

Issue publication date: 22 April 2022




Rapid technological advancements and the ever-increasing demand for Internet and social networking sites worldwide have increased the opportunity for extensive use and misuse of these platforms. Research and practice have typically focused on the brighter side of social networking sites due to the adoption of EHRM (Electronic Human Resource Management). However, less is known about the dark side of EHRM, especially the drawbacks associated with the use of social networking (SNs) platforms in organisations. In addition, most of such studies have primarily involved the western country context, and in an emerging country scenario, these kinds of studies are limited. Hence, the study aims to investigate the complexities of the use of SNs as an e-HRM strategy in organisations in an emerging country context.


Drawing on 26 in-depth interviews of HR practitioners and analysing their narratives surrounding employees' use of social networking (both enterprise social networks [ESNs] and social networking sites [SNSs]), this study illuminates the dark or the adverse side of EHRM. Specifically, it focuses on the link between employees' deviant workplace behaviour and their usage of social networking (SN) platforms in organisations (i.e. SNs at workplaces influencing employee's unethical behaviour at work).


The empirical findings reveal the subtle intentional and unintentional indulgence of employees via SNs in various types of deviant behaviours such as sharing confidential information, bullying, harassment, breaching colleagues' privacy, etc., at the workplace in the emerging market context of India. Utilising the social networking perspective and the 4Ps of deviant theory, this article describes deviance behaviours in detail and explains the inadvertent complexities of leveraging SNs as an EHRM tool at the workplace. These insights then provide a starting point for discussing the theoretical and managerial implications of the research findings.

Research limitations/implications

Derived from the current research, this model offers an integrative frame-work for understanding DWBs in SNs platforms in general. This also shows that use of SNs at workplace often leads the employee engaging in non-productive activity. Hence future studies can explore the application of this framework in organizations in detail, thus further highlighting the usefulness of EHRM to understand the employee behaviours at the workplace by the organisations.

Practical implications

The research offers several managerial implications concerning the use of SNs as EHRM strategy at the workplace, which is perceived as a global challenge nowadays. Primarily it offers suggestions for the social media professionals and HR practitioners regarding the use of SNs in organisations.


The study's findings highlight the complex process that explains how SNs as an EHRM strategy affect employee deviance behaviours in the workplace. Till date, no known study has considered the possible effect of SNs on deviance behavior at the workplace in an emerging country context.



Nayak, S., Budhwar, P., Pereira, V. and Malik, A. (2022), "Exploring the dark-side of E-HRM: a study of social networking sites and deviant workplace behavior", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 89-115.



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