Monitoring of electronic communications : justice, connectedness, and social exchange influences on employee job attitudes

Paczkowski, William F.
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Kuruzovich, Jason N.
Francis, Bill
Ravichandran, T.
Adali, Sibel
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This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
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The findings of this study suggest that formal monitoring of email content reduces levels of social exchange and results in negative employee attitudes regarding their work environment. However, where employees determine that there is a sufficient level of monitoring justice, these negative responses to monitoring were not found to be significant. Further, I found that high levels of monitoring of electronic communication usage behavior significantly decreased social exchange levels and negatively impacted attitudinal outcomes. This negative result was increased where employees attributed high levels of importance to remaining connected to their organization. This dissertation suggests that organizational leadership take the perceptions of their employees and overall effects on job attitudes into account when engaging in electronic communication monitoring practices.
The proliferation and changing nature of electronic communications (e.g., email, texting, instant messaging, Skype, etc.) as a necessary resource for knowledge requires continuing research in order to understand how these technologies affect relationships among managers and their employees. I seek to measure the extent to which employees’ perceived email content monitoring (PECM), defined as the extent to which employees believe that their emails are being read regardless of whether that is done within the organization, affects their behavior and job attitudes. Further, employees’ supervisors can monitor how and when employees utilize electronic communications as a means of evaluating job performance. Employees’ perceived email activity monitoring (PEAM), defined as the extent to which employees perceive that their usage of email is being monitored by their supervisors, can have negative attitudinal effects. Job attitudes can be especially impacted where the monitoring of the actual content of emails and/or email usage behaviors is considered to be inappropriate, overly intrusive, or beyond the scope of traditional managerial monitoring practices.
In order to help understand the implications of electronic communication monitoring in the workplace, I investigate how theoretical social exchange mechanisms of leader-member exchange (LMX) and perceived organizational support (POS) influence employee attitudinal outcomes including job satisfaction, organizational commitment, stress, and work/life conflict. I also develop a concept of “monitoring justice” that can be employed by managers to defer the potential for negative implications of monitoring. Further, I explore how the level of importance that individuals place on being connected to their organization via electronic communication technology can exacerbate the social exchange relationships and resulting job attitudinal outcomes.
August 2017
School of Management
Lally School of Management
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Rensselaer Theses and Dissertations Online Collection
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