Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Jimmy Donaghey, Tony Dundon and Richard B. Freeman
Chapter 27: E-voice: how network and media technologies are shaping employee voice
Web-based technologies are impacting on the development and expression of individual and collective voice at the workplace. While there is much anecdotal and media coverage concerning the use made of these technologies, the pace of technological development has outstripped academic research on its implications for employee voice. Media coverage often swings between enthusiasm about the capacity of social media to transform contemporary workplaces and concern about privacy and civil liberties raised by examples of the heavy-handed policing of employees' use of social media. Recent media coverage of internet trolls highlights another emerging concern. While still in its infancy, scholarly literature on the implications of internet communication for voice is identifying a range of potentially positive and negative effects. The objective of this chapter is to gather together these preliminary findings and analyses as a basis for considering potential short-and long-term consequences for the expression of voice by both individual employees and unions. As social media spreads its tentacles through society, employees increasingly use internet forums to express opinions about their working lives. Social media also facilitate a blurring of boundaries between work and non-work life, making it ever more likely that comments made outside work will find their way into the workplace. Individual expressions of voice, both within and outside work, have led to well-publicized instances of employee termination.
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