Business Review - The Dignity of Data

Dec 9, 2021

Dorothy Leidner explains why data collection and digitalization are not without their drawbacks.
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More and more data is being collected on our personal lives, in new and different ways. Dorothy Leidner, Professor of Information Systems, shares how data misuse can be a threat to our human dignity “Technology use, particularly with the digitalization of our lives, has the potential to threaten our human dignity as people. And whether that threat is in the form, that we might get addicted to it or that it's manipulating our behavior without us even knowing it or the threat is in the form of our privacy being taken from us without us realizing it” Leidner says, that companies should be careful not to treat employees as objects with respect, to using data and should be aware that the findings may not tell the complete story.” “The company could be keeping track of all your internet searches of your emails and could have some analytics being done on that without you knowing it. One of the risks is if the data slacks context someone's performance has been outstanding for many years, and then we implement this system. And then for a couple of months, this employee has lower performance. There may be a very good explanation for that. Maybe they're moving offices, maybe they've been asked by their boss to be doing something else. This lack of context can be a real problem. I wouldn't say we worshiped data, but boy, once it's data in the system, it's like takes on this truth and it's not truth, right? It's data at a point in time that does not have full context and we have to learn to interpret things this way. So, I think the risk is that we over rely on these data about employees and result in unfair judgments about the employee.” The “Business Review” is a production of Livingston and McKay and the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University.