Anonymous Workblogging and Organizational Coping Strategies

Anonymous Workblogging and Organizational Coping Strategies

Abigail Schoneboom (City University of New York, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-901-9.ch013
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Abstract

In recent years, the rise of blogging has led to debate about whether employees should be free to talk about their employers on the Internet, and whether they should be able to blog on company time. Several high-profile cases of fired bloggers between 2002 and 2006, drew attention to important labor and civil rights issues that led to debate among human resources and employment law experts in the mainstream media. The negative publicity surrounding the cases of fired bloggers has given rise to an alternative management strategy – a cautious embrace of blogging by employers, who saw the practice as a potential opportunity for marketing and professional development. However, efforts by bloggers to retain their right to blog anonymously signify continuing tensions, revealing the contradictions between workplace surveillance and an “enlightened” management doctrine based on openness and trust, indicating a refusal by some employees to align their blogging endeavors with the interests of their employer. This chapter examines the workblogging phenomenon as an intersection of organizations, technology, and trust, and makes some tentative connections between Guerra et al.’s (2003) concept of “trust-tension” and the critical management literature.
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Background

Knowledge organizations demand free-flowing information, employee autonomy, and flexibility. However, this can create anxiety for the organization in terms of minimizing worker behaviors that might threaten the organization. This chapter examines the workblogging phenomenon as an intersection of organizations, technology, and trust, and draws some tentative connections between the trust literature and the critical management sphere.

The wide-ranging debate about trust and technology examines the relationship between proximity or familiarity with technology and one’s willingness to engage in online social or economic transactions (Dutton & Shepherd, 2006); the impact of the loss of physical cues (Wallace, 2001), and the possibility for alternative trust-generating mechanisms such as the availability of high-quality online information in computer-mediated interactions (Ben-Ner & Putterman, 2002; Riegelsberger, Sasse, & McCarthy, 2003). Of particular interest to this study, however, is Guerra et al.’s (2003) notion of trust-tension.

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