The Ethical Impact of Human Labour Surveillance on the Organisations


Patrícia Martins and Filipe Cerqueira (Portugal)


The transformation of the organizations to a high rhythm demands new forms of performance in the organisational context where these are obliged to use more aggressive processes of implementation and maintenance. With the development of the new technologies, new possibilities open to the organizations, and employees on control methods and deviations of their functions. It is on these variables that a balance point has to be found where organizations and employees define the form of better executing the functions demanded for the organizations and exploitation that the new technology. “The secret of the success in the life is in being honest and just.” – Groucho Marx.

The Internet as a technology in constant development and as form by excellence of access to the information provides a virtual opening of easy access to it. The electronic mail is a complement of this opening and a form of contact between people and organizations. As the majority of organizations nowadays has access to these technologies, available for all more direct collaborators thus running the risk of loss of productivity if used this resource of abusive and less appropriate form to the interests for the organization. Therefore forms of management of availability of these resources had been created and the access to the same ones.

According to Michael Porter, an organization can be considered as a set of people whom if they organize to make to relieve its talents, specific differences and abilities. However the personal objectives to the edge of the process of the organization can provoke conflicts and a prejudice for the intention of the organization.

It is in this context that appears some questions related with the ethics of these procedures. What’s the limit that the organization should control and sanction the access of its collaborators to these resources? When presenting an inflexible position, will not have the organization to lose productivity when causes psychological issues on their employees, feeling they’re being surveilled and watched? Which is the barrier between the invasion of privacy and the correct management of the resources? What about the employees? Can it be consider an abuse in the access to the resources on the part of the collaborators of the organization exists? The use of available less proper information and great amount of information became the technological platform on which the Internet functions slowest?

This paper tries to focus both perspectives previously described incised mainly on the ethical and social implications in the management of the information in the point of view of the organizations, as well as the one involving the environment of the organization (customers, suppliers, employees, etc.).

Different forms of controlling the information exist nowadays. As the prohibition of the access to the information, and the monitoring of the contents acceded for posterior analysis. If the access ceasing of certain Internet contents, such as sites of pornography are ethically acceptable and even recommendable, instead people accessing sites without having conscience that are being monitorized, believing they are accessing freely and without any problem, but being registered all the sites where they entered, processed the information and downloads/uploads made, being later analyzed, will be consensual? Is this monitorizing ethical? Should the organization do this kind of surveillance on employees without their acknowledge?

Being the electronic mail one value for the organization, therefore allows a bigger rapidity in the communications between partners, greater easiness in document transference, greater communicational agility intra organization, among others benefits, many studies carried out in several countries demonstrate that most of the electronic mail that circulates in the net, has personal contents and amusement, do not refer labour contents.

With the great proliferation of this type of e-mails the system is overloaded and less efficient that effectively in which it is destined. Can we measure the amount of harmful of the technological resources wasted to the normal performance of the organization and for its productivity, arising itself in this way an ethical question of the employee with the organization. On the other hand, the use of abusive of the resources of the organization in this aspect will be condemnable, if not to intervene with the productivity of the employee?

These among others ethical questions are arisen constantly in the current times, as the technology allows each time a new and better form of access the information and control of it. The impact of this technological advance will revolutionize the relation employee/organization constantly.