Who’s Watching Us at Work? Toward a Structural–Perceptual Model of Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance in Organizations


Scott C. D’Urso; e-mail: scott.durso@marquette.edu.


Nearly 80% of organizations now employ some form of employee surveillance. This significant level of use infers a salient need for additional theory and research into the effects of monitoring and surveillance. Accordingly, this essay examines the panoptic effects of electronic monitoring and surveillance (EM/S) of social communication in the workplace and the underlying structural and perceptual elements that lead to these effects. It also provides future scholarly perspectives for studying EM/S and privacy in the organization from the vantage point of contemporary communication technologies, such as the telephone, voice mail, e-mail, and instant messaging, utilized for organizational communication. Finally, four propositions are presented in conjunction with a new communication-based model of EM/S, providing a framework incorporating three key components of the panoptic effect: (a) communication technology use, (b) organizational factors, and (c) organizational policies for EM/S.