Fostering support for work floor energy conservation policies: Accounting for privacy concerns


Jan Willem Bolderdijk, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, Groningen, The Netherlands. E-mail


The advent of electronic monitoring technology (e.g., smart meters and in-car GPS devices) poses the opportunity for organizations to promote energy conservation behaviors among their employees through individual feedback and incentives. Although electronic monitoring thus can help in reducing the organization's environmental footprint, organizations may be reluctant to take such steps because of privacy concerns that may arise among those whose behavior is being monitored. This paper examines the roots of such privacy concerns. On the basis of literature on motivated cognition, we expect that people may sometimes construe privacy concerns in a self-serving fashion. Three empirical studies support this assumption and suggest an interesting and potentially controversial conclusion: electronic monitoring in itself may not necessarily raise concerns about privacy, except when people anticipate that monitoring will lead to negative consequences for them personally. Thus, this paper offers clear policy advice for organizations aiming to implement work floor energy conservation policies that rely on electronic monitoring of employee behavior: communicating the individual benefits for employees may alleviate employee privacy concerns and boost organizational support. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.