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Empowering employees: the other side of electronic performance monitoring

Karma Sherif (Department of Accounting and Information Systems, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)
Omolola Jewesimi (Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA)
Mazen El-Masri (College of Business and Economics, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 19 November 2020

Issue publication date: 4 June 2021

524

Abstract

Purpose

Advances in electronic performance monitoring (EPM) have raised employees’ concerns regarding the invasion of privacy and erosion of trust. On the other hand, EPM promises to improve performance and processes. This paper aims to focus on how the alignment of EPM design and organizational culture through effective organizational mechanisms can address privacy concerns, and, hence, positively affect employees’ perception toward technology.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a theoretical lens extending two conceptual frameworks, a qualitative approach was used to analyze interview data collected from a comparative case study of two organizations in the USA and Qatar within the oil and gas sector. These two contexts were selected to emphasize the cross-cultural and organizational differences in employees’ acceptance of EPM.

Findings

The study revealed that national and corporate cultures affected employees’ perception and acceptance of monitoring in both countries. Because of diversity, though EPM was better accepted in Qatar, as they are an easy way to enforce standardization and to push employees to adapt to a dominating corporate culture. Conversely, in the USA where culture is more innovation-oriented, organizational mechanisms shifted the perceptions of EPM to being mean to obtain feedback rather than to impose standards.

Research limitations/implications

This qualitative study is based on a descriptive comparative case study of two organizations with two cultural contexts. The limited sample size and cross-sectional nature of data may need to be extended to a larger cultural scope that is observed over a longer period to safely generalize the findings.

Practical implications

Decision-makers in multinational corporations with different cultural backgrounds may benefit of this study’s outcomes, as it emphasizes the importance of the fit between EPM designs and the cultural settings. Furthermore, organizations aiming to conduct analytics on EPM data have to justify and prove its benefits to employees to facilitate acceptance.

Social implications

The study shows that employees in Qatar have a different cultural frame of reference in their perception of fairness and ethics than their counterparts in the USA because of changes in the meaning of social relations, personal goals and behavioral norms.

Originality/value

The originality of this study lays in its empirical validation of a composite framework examining both national and corporate cultures on employees’ reactions to EPM systems. It also proves the critical importance of organizational mechanisms to align the EPM design with the organization cultural settings.

Keywords

Citation

Sherif, K., Jewesimi, O. and El-Masri, M. (2021), "Empowering employees: the other side of electronic performance monitoring", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 207-221. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-04-2020-0038

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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