Exploring the ethicality of firing employees who blog

Sean Valentine, Gary M. Fleischman, Robert Sprague, Lynn Godkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

This exploratory study evaluates the ethical considerations related to employees fired for their blogging activities. Specifically, subject evaluations of two employee-related blogging scenarios were investigated with established ethical reasoning and moral intensity scales, and a measure of corporate ethical values was included to assess perceptions of organizational ethics. The first scenario involved an employee who was fired because of innocuous blogging, while the second vignette involved an employee who was fired because of work-related blogging. Survey data were collected from employed college students and working practitioners. The findings indicated that the subjects' ethical judgments that firing an employee for blogging was unethical were negatively related to unethical intentions to fire an employee for blogging. Moral intensity was positively related to ethical judgments and negatively related to unethical intentions to fire an employee for blogging, while individual perceptions of ethical values were negatively associated with unethical intentions. Finally, subjects perceived that terminating an employee for innocuous blogging that did not target an employer was more ethically intense than was firing an employee for work-related blogging. The implications of the findings for human resource professionals are discussed, as are the study's limitations and suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-108
Number of pages22
JournalHuman Resource Management
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Blogging
  • Ethical decision making
  • Ethical values
  • Moral intensity
  • Termination

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