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Privacy – Video surveillance may change behavior

NY Times Technology section shares interesting case study among restaurant workers

QUOTE: The software is intentionally set so that a restaurant manager gets only an electronic theft alert in cases that seem to clearly be misconduct. Otherwise, a manager might be mired in time-consuming detective work instead of running the restaurant.  The savings from the theft alerts themselves were modest, $108 a week per restaurant. However, after installing the monitoring software, the revenue per restaurant increased by an average of $2,982 a week, or about 7 percent.

The impact, the researchers say, came not from firing workers engaged in theft, but mostly from their changed behavior. Knowing they were being monitored, the servers not only pulled back on any unethical practices, but also channeled their efforts into, say, prompting customers to have that dessert or a second beer, raising revenue for the restaurant and tips for themselves.

The same people who are stealing from you can be set up to succeed,” said Mr. Pierce of Washington University. In the research, the data sets were sizable. For example, there were more than 630,000 transactions by servers tracked and collected each week over the course of the project.   But more significant, the researchers say, is what the data analysis might contribute to fields of study like social psychology and behavioral economics — and the business discipline of human resources management.

FULL STUDY – Cleaning House: The Impact of Information Technology Monitoring on Employee Theft and Productivity

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