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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Peter Buell Hirsch (Department of Communication Studies, Baruch College, New York, USA and Ogilvy Consulting, Ogilvy & Mather, New York, USA)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 17 June 2019

Issue publication date: 9 July 2019




This paper aims to assess the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and biometrics in monitoring employee performance and behavior and offer a perspective on the impact of this development on corporate culture and employee relations.


The authors have reviewed a variety of new applications of AI technologies covered in the business literature and have offered a commentary on the impact.


The authorshave found that the use of these technologies is viewed with suspicion if not outright alarm by employees. Some of these technologies appear so invasive that even vendors supplying them are at pains to ensure that true employee consent is obtained.

Research limitations/implications

This is a selective and not a comprehensive view of the subject without additional primary research.

Practical implications

Companies will have an increasingly important choice to make about the types of surveillance technologies they deploy with profound implications for the types of corporate culture that will emerge.

Social implications

The authorshope that the review and discussion of the use of these technologies will prompt a broader social discussion about the use of AI and predictive analytics across a range of applications which will, in turn, lead to the adoption of common standards for privacy and transparency.


While the technologies themselves have been written about in a variety of forums, it is believed that this is the first attempt, to the best of the author’s knowledge, to survive the landscape of AI uses in HR.



Hirsch, P.B. (2019), "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 53-56.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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