New technology: the potential impact of surveillance techniques in recruitment practices

Searle, Rosalind (2006). New technology: the potential impact of surveillance techniques in recruitment practices. Personnel Review, 35(3) pp. 336–351.




Purpose – To outline changes in selection attraction, search and assessment processes and examine and compare, using a surveillance perspective, the privacy and equity issues for applicants, organisations and testers.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper begins by reviewing briefly the role of surveillance and identifying the key issues of privacy, control and purpose of data collection and dissemination in an HR context. Through reviewing recent publications (1998-2004) contrasts are made between earlier and new processes in applicant attraction, search and assessment. The impact of these potential changes on privacy and equity is then examined for three stakeholders: applicants, organisations, and testers.
Findings – Identifies the potential for misuse of data through these systems and the possibility of the perpetuation of discrimination for traditional marginalised groups. Raises the increased power brought about through such processes for organisations through data assemblage and for testers via increased control of their tools.
Research limitations/implications – Calls for more critical work to examine the impact of new attraction, search and assessment practices on applicants to reveal whether the improved equity of access new technology affords is translated into increased equity of participation.
Practical implications – A very useful source of information about current processes and concerns they raise. Outlines future research agendas in these three areas.
Originality/value – This paper updates one's understanding of current practice and reveals genuine concerns about the potential applications of surveillance techniques within an HR context.

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