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New rules in the workplace: Applying object-relations theory to explain problem Internet and email behaviour in the workplace

By Monica T. Whitty and Adrian N. Carr


While the Internet and email can be great assets to an organisation, especially in respect to creating new knowledge, nonetheless a number of problems have accompanied the introduction of the Internet into the workplace. Some of these problems include: ‘cyberslacking’, cyber-harassment and ‘Netiquette’. Employers have attempted to obviate these problems by developing Internet usage policies, implementing filtering software and monitoring their workers. It has also been suggested that psychological tests could assist employers in identifying potentially ‘problem’ employees. Although each of these methods have their uses, none of them have been successful in dealing with such problems. We argue that if we are better able to conceptualise cyberspace and the relationship workers have with this space, then we may be able to develop more effective solutions to deal with these new problems in the workplace. This paper attempts to do just that, by drawing upon object-relations theories, developed by Winnicott, Bollas and Klein. We also draw upon Serres’ work on quasi-objects. We believe that cyberspace is a unique and important tool for organisations to utilise, but if not understood well, the existing problems that have already emerged, and those yet to emerge, will continue to be ineffectively addressed.Peer-reviewedPost-prin

Topics: Internet, workplace, organisations, object-relations, Winnicott, Klein, Bollas, Serres, surveillance, cyberslacking, cyber-harassment, netiquette
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.chb.2004.06.005
OAI identifier:

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