Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Employee Anonymous Online Dissent: Dynamics and Ethical Challenges for Employees, Targeted Organisations, Online Outlets, and Audiences

  • Silvia Ravazzani (a1) and Alessandra Mazzei (a2)
Abstract:

This article aims to enhance understanding of employee anonymous online dissent (EAOD), a controversial phenomenon in contemporary digital environments. We conceptualise and scrutinise EAOD as a communicative and interactional process among four key actors: dissenting employees, online outlet administrators, audiences, and targeted organisations. This multi-actor, dialectical process encompasses actor-related tensions that may generate unethical consequences if single voices are not brought out and confronted. Appropriating a Habermasian ethical and discursive lens, we examine and disentangle three particular challenges emerging from the EAOD process: lack of accountability and potential opportunism; equal participation and resolution of actor-related tensions; and organisational participation and internalisation of dissent. We show that EAOD can initiate plural dialogue that helps co-construct and balance different voices within an informal and noninstitutionalised context for interaction and public deliberation. We conclude our inquiry by offering reflections on practical implications and a research agenda for further investigation.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Alonzo, M., & Aiken, M. 2004. Flaming in electronic communication. Decision Support Systems, 36(3): 205213.
Anonymous, . 1998. To reveal or not to reveal: A theoretical model of anonymous communication. Communication Theory, 8(4): 381407.
Balnave, N., Barnes, A., Macmillan, C., & Thornthwaite, L. 2014. E-voice? How network and media technologies are shaping employee voice. In Wilkinson, A., Donaghy, J., Dundon, T., & Freeman, R. (Eds.), The handbook of research on employee voice: 439454. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
Barry, B. 2007. The cringing and the craven: Freedom of expression in, around, and beyond the workplace. Business Ethics Quarterly, 17(2): 263296.
Barsade, S. G., & Gibson, D. E. 1998. Group emotion: A view from top and bottom. In Neale, M. A. & Mannix, E. A. (Eds.), Research on managing groups and teams, vol. 1: 81102. Stamford, CT: JAI Press.
Baur, D., & Arenas, D. 2014. The value of unregulated business-NGO interaction: A deliberative perspective. Business & Society, 53(2): 157186.
Beschorner, T. 2006. Ethical theory and business practices: The case of discourse ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 66(1): 127139.
Bishop, L., & Levine, D. I. 1999. Computer-mediated communication as employee voice: A case study. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 52(2): 213234.
Callison, C. 2001. Do PR practitioners have a PR problem? The effect of associating a source with public relations and client-negative news on audience perception of credibility. Journal of Public Relations Research, 13(3): 219234.
Cardon, P. W. 2016. Community, culture, and affordances in social collaboration and communication. International Journal of Business Communication, 53(2): 141147.
Castelló, I., Etter, M., & Nielsen, F. A. 2016. Strategies of legitimacy through social media: The networked strategy. Journal of Management Studies, 53(3): 402432.
Castelló, I., Morsing, M., & Schultz, F. 2013. Communicative dynamics and the polyphony of corporate social responsibility in the network society. Journal of Business Ethics, 118(4): 683694.
Castells, M. 2007. Communication, power and counter-power in the network society. International Journal of Communication, 1(1): 238266.
Christensen, L. T., Morsing, M., & Cheney, G. 2008. Corporate communications. Convention, complexity, and critique. London: SAGE.
Christopherson, K. M. 2007. The positive and negative implications of anonymity in Internet social interactions: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Computers in Human Behavior, 23: 30383056.
Coombs, W. T., & Holladay, J. S. 2012. The paracrisis: The challenges created by publicly managing crisis prevention. Public Relations Review, 38(3): 408415.
Dahlberg, L. 2005. The Habermasian public sphere: Taking difference seriously? Theory and Society, 34: 111136.
Dawkins, C. 2015. Agonistic pluralism and stakeholder engagement. Business Ethics Quarterly, 25(1): 128.
Deetz, S. 1998. Discursive formations, strategized subordination and self-surveillance. In McKinlay, A. & Starkey, K. (Eds.), Foucault, management and organizational theory: From panopticon to technologies of self: 151172. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Degoey, P. 2000. Contagious justice: Exploring the social construction of justice in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior, 22: 51102.
Dempsey, J. 2015. Moral responsibility, shared values, and corporate culture. Business Ethics Quarterly, 25(3): 319340.
Fraser, N. 1990. Rethinking the public sphere: A contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy. Social Text, 25/26: 5680.
Garner, J. T. 2009. When things go wrong at work: An exploration of organizational dissent messages. Communication Studies, 60(2): 197218.
Garner, J. T. 2013. Dissenters, managers, and coworkers: The process of co-constructing organizational dissent and dissent effectiveness. Management Communication Quarterly, 27(3): 373395.
Goodman, J., & Arenas, D. 2015. Engaging ethically: A discourse ethics perspective on social shareholder engagement. Business Ethics Quarterly, 25(2): 163189.
Gossett, M. L., & Kilker, J. 2006. My job sucks. Examining counterinstitutional web sites as locations for organizational member voice, dissent and resistance. Management Communication Quarterly, 20(1): 6390.
Grant, A. M. 2013. Rocking the boat but keeping it steady: The role of emotion regulation in employee voice. Academy of Management Journal, 56(6): 17031723.
Guthey, E., & Morsing, M. 2014. CSR and the mediated emergence of strategic ambiguity. Journal of Business Ethics, 120(4): 555569.
Habermas, J. 1992. Moral consciousness and communicative action, trans. Lenhardt, C. & Nicholsen, S. W.. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Habermas, J. 1993. Justification and application: Remarks on discourse ethics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Habermas, J. 1994. The unity of reason in the diversity of its voices. In Habermas, J. (Ed.), Postmetaphysical thinking. Political essays: 115148. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Habermas, J. 2001a. From Kant’s “ideas” of pure reason to the “idealizing” presuppositions of communicative action: Reflections on the detrancendentalized “use of reason.” In Regh, W. & Bohman, J. (Eds.), Pluralism and the pragmatic turn: Essays in honor of Thomas McCarthy: 1139. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Habermas, J. 2001b. The postnational constellation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Hennig-Thurau, T., Gwinner, K. P., Walsh, G., & Gremler, D. D. 2004. Electronic word-of-mouth via consumer-opinion platforms: What motivates consumers to articulate themselves on the Internet? Journal of Interactive Marketing, 18(1): 3852.
Hlavach, L., & Freivogel, W. H. 2011. Ethical implications of anonymous comments posted to online news stories. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 26(1): 2137.
Ho, S. S., & McLeod, D. M. 2008. Social-psychological influences on opinion expression in face-to face and computer-mediated communication. Communication Research, 35(2): 190207.
Isaac, M. 2016. How Facebook’s fact-checking partnership will work. The New York Times, December 15. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/15/technology/facebook-fact-checking-fake-news.html.
Kantor, J., & Streitfeld, D. 2015. Inside Amazon: Wrestling big ideas in a bruising workplace. The New York Times, August 15. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html.
Kassing, J. W. 1997. Articulating, antagonizing, and displacing: A model of employee dissent. Communication Studies, 48(4): 311332.
Kassing, J. W. 1998. Development and validation of the organizational dissent scale. Management Communication Quarterly, 12(2): 183229.
Kassing, J. W. 2011. Dissent in organizations. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Kassing, J. W., & Armstrong, T. A. 2002. Someone’s going to hear about this: Examining the association between dissent-triggering events and employees’ dissent expression. Management Communication Quarterly, 16(1): 3965.
Kassing, J. W., & DiCioccio, R. L. 2004. Testing a workplace experience explanation of displaced dissent. Communication Reports, 17(2): 111120.
Kelley, H. H., & Michela, J. L. 1980. Attribution theory and research. Annual Review of Psychology, 31: 457501.
Klaas, B. S., Olson-Buchanan, J. B., & Ward, A. K. 2012. The determinants of alternative forms of workplace voice: An integrative perspective. Journal of Management, 38(1): 314345.
Kling, R., Lee, Y., Teich, A., & Frankel, M. S. 1999. Assessing anonymous communication in the Internet: Policy deliberations. Information Society, 15(2): 7990.
Krishna, A., & Kim, S. 2015. Confessions of an angry employee: The dark side of de-identified “confessions” on Facebook. Public Relations Review, 41(3): 402410.
Kulik, C. T., Pepper, M. B., Shapiro, D. L., & Cregan, C. 2012. The electronic water cooler: Insiders and outsiders talk about organizational justice on the Internet. Communication Research, 39(5): 565591.
Lankes, R. D. 2008. Credibility on the Internet: Shifting from authority to reliability. Journal of Documentation, 64(5): 667686.
Lillqvist, E., & Louhiala-Salminen, L. 2014. Facing Facebook: Impression management strategies in company-consumer interactions, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 28(1): 330.
Lipinski, T. A. 2002. To speak or not to speak: Developing legal standards for anonymous speech on the Internet. Informing Science, 5: 95111.
Livingstone, S. 2004. Media literacy and the challenge of new information and communication technologies. The Communication Review, 7(1): 314.
Lozano, J. M. 2005. Towards the relational corporation: From managing stakeholder relationships to building stakeholder relationships (waiting for Copernicus). Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society, 5(2): 6077.
Marwick, A. E., & Boyd, D. 2011. I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society, 13(1): 114133.
Marx, G. T. 2001. Identity and anonymity: Some conceptual distinctions and issues for research. In Caplan, J. & Torpey, J. (Eds.), Documenting individual identity: The development of state practices in the modern world: 311327. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University.
Miceli, M. P., Near, J. P., & Dworkin, T. M. 2008. Whistleblowing in organizations. New York: Routledge.
Morrison, E. W. 2011. Voice and silence within organizations: Literature review and directions for future research. Academy of Management Annals, 5(1): 373412.
Nissenbaum, H. 2003. Securing trust online: Wisdom or oxymoron?. In Koiko, B. E. (Ed.), Virtual publics: Policy and community in an electronic age: 134171. New York: Columbia University.
Palazzo, G., & Scherer, A. G. 2006. Corporate legitimacy as deliberation: A communicative framework. Journal of Business Ethics, 66(1): 7188.
Rains, S. A. 2007. The anonymity effect: The influence of anonymity on perceptions of sources and information on health websites. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 35(2): 197214.
Rains, S. A., & Scott, C. R. 2007. To identify or not to identify: A theoretical model of receiver responses to anonymous communication. Communication Theory, 17(1): 6191.
Real, K., & Putnam, L. L. 2005. Ironies in the discursive struggle of pilots defending the profession. Management Communication Quarterly, 19(1): 91119.
Rosenberry, J. 2011. Users support online anonymity despite increasing negativity. Newspaper Research Journal, 32(2): 619.
Salter, M. 2013. Justice and revenge in online counter-publics: Emerging responses to sexual violence in the age of social media. Crime, Media, Culture, 9(3): 225242.
Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. 2007. Toward a political conception of corporate responsibility: Business and society seen from a Habermasian perspective. Academy of Management Review, 32(4): 10961120.
Scott, C. R. 2004. Benefits and drawbacks of anonymous online communication: Legal challenges and communicative recommendations. Free Speech Yearbook, 41(1): 127141.
Scott, C. R., & Rains, S. A. 2005. Anonymous communication in organizations: Assessing use and appropriateness. Management Communication Quarterly, 19(2): 157197.
Scott, C. R., Rains, S. A., & Haseki, M. 2011. Anonymous communication: Unmasking findings across fields. In Salmon, C. (Ed.), Communication yearbook, vol. 35: 29342. New York: Routledge.
Shahinpoor, N., & Matt, B. F. 2006. The power of one: Dissent and organizational life. Journal of Business Ethics, 74(1): 3748.
Shoss, M. K., Maurer, A. H., & Rupprecht, E. A. 2013. “My boss is probably the devil!” Exploring employees’ online vents. In Zerbe, W. J., Ashkanasy, N. M., & Härtel, C. E. J. (Eds.), Individual sources, dynamics, and expressions of emotion. Research on emotion in organizations, vol. 9: 249277. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Skarlicki, D. P., & Kulik, C. T. 2005. Third-party reactions to employee mistreatment: A justice perspective. Research in Organizational Behavior, 26: 185231.
Stahl, B. C. 2005. The responsible company of the future: Reflective responsibility in business. Futures, 37(2/3): 117131.
Stohl, C., & Cheney, G. 2001. Participatory processes/paradoxical practices: Communication and the dilemmas of organizational democracy. Management Communication Quarterly, 14(3): 349407.
Stohl, C., Etter, M., Banghart, S., & Woo, D. 2017. Social media policies: Implications for contemporary notions of corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 142: 413436.
Strandberg, K. 2008. Public deliberation goes on-line? An analysis of citizens’ political discussions on the Internet prior to the Finnish parliamentary elections in 2007. Javnost - The Public, 15(1): 7190.
Streitfeld, D., & Kantor, J. 2015. Jeff Bezos and Amazon employees join debate over its culture. The New York Times, August 17. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/18/technology/amazon-bezos-workplace-management-practices.html.
Suchman, M. C. 1995. Managing legitimacy: Strategic and institutional approaches. Academy of Management Review, 20(3): 571610.
Surowiecki, J. 2004. The wisdom of crowds. New York: Anchor.
Taras, D., & Gesser, A. 2003. How new lawyers use e-voice to drive firm compensation: “Greedy associates” phenomenon. Journal of Labor Research, 24(1): 929.
Teo, H., & Caspersz, D. 2011. Dissenting discourse: Exploring alternatives to the whistleblowing/silence dichotomy. Journal of Business Ethics, 104(2): 237249.
Trieu, R. 2016. How businesses are using anonymous Blind app to change work culture. Forbes Asia, June 2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rosatrieu/2016/07/02/how-businesses-are-using-anonymous-blind-app-to-change-work-culture/#301f562eff81.
Trittin, H., & Schoeneborn, D. 2015. Diversity as polyphony: Reconceptualizing diversity management from a communication-centered perspective. Journal of Business Ethics. doi:10.1007/s10551-015-2825-8.
Valentine, S., Fleischman, G. M., Sprague, R., & Godkin, L. 2010. Exploring the ethicality of firing employees who blog. Human Resource Management, 49(1): 87108.
Van Laer, J., & Van Aelst, P. 2010. Internet and social movement action repertoires: Opportunities and limitations. Information, Communication & Society, 13(8): 11461171.
Whelan, G. 2012. The political perspective of corporate social responsibility: A critical research agenda. Business Ethics Quarterly, 22(4): 709737.
Whelan, G. 2013. Corporate constructed and dissent enabling public spheres: Differentiating dissensual form consensual corporate social responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics, 115(4): 755769.
Whelan, G., Moon, J., & Grant, B. 2013. Corporations and citizenship arenas in the age of social media. Journal of Business Ethics, 118(4): 777790.
Young, I. M. 2006. Responsibility and global justice: A social connection model. Social Philosophy and Policy, 23(1): 102130.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Business Ethics Quarterly
  • ISSN: 1052-150X
  • EISSN: 2153-3326
  • URL: /core/journals/business-ethics-quarterly
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 68 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 521 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 4th December 2017 - 18th September 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.