Attitude- Intention Linkage: Impact of Gunas on Attitude & Intention of Piracy & Privacy Intrusion

By Debnath, Nivedita; Bhal, Kanika T. | Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, July 2008 | Go to article overview

Attitude- Intention Linkage: Impact of Gunas on Attitude & Intention of Piracy & Privacy Intrusion


Debnath, Nivedita, Bhal, Kanika T., Indian Journal of Industrial Relations


The present paper looks at the ethical issues related to intrusion of privacy and software piracy, and tries to explore the relationship between attitude (perceived ethicality) and intention (likelihood) of indulging in these activities. The paper explores the impact of the personality factors that influence individual attitude, which, in turn, influences individual intention. The paper looks at a personality construct called Gunas, which has been identified, in traditional Indian literature as descriptive of ethical behaviour.

Introduction

We cannot ignore the freedom and flexibility given to us by Information Technology (IT), but we also cannot ignore the ethical issues that IT has given to our society. Issues of privacy and software piracy in organizations are two such issues. According to Mason (1986) privacy is what information about one's self or one's associations must a person reveal to others, under what conditions and with what safeguards? What things can people keep to them and not be forced to reveal to others?

Privacy is the condition of not having undocumented personal knowledge about one possessed by the other. A person's privacy is diminished exactly to the degree that others possess this kind of knowledge about him/her. Documented information is information that is found in the public record or is publicly available (Parent 1983). Privacy has been defined as the right of individuals to control the collection and use of personal information about themselves has been defined as the 'right of individuals to control the collection and use of personal information about themselves' (Henderson & Snyder 1999).

Two forces threaten our privacy. One is the growth of information technology, with its enhanced capacity for surveillance, communication, computation, storage and retrieval. The second and more insidious threat is the increased value of information in decision-making. Information is increasingly valuable to policy makers; they convert it even if acquiring it invades another's privacy (Mason 1986).

Another ethical issue that we have taken in the present study is software piracy. Software piracy is defined as an illegal act of copying software for many reasons, other than back up, without explicit permission from and compensation to the copyright holder (Gopal & Sanders 1998). Software piracy, which includes both the duplication of commercially available software to avoid fees and unauthorized copying of an organization's own internally, developed programs (Straub & Collins 1990). Piracy is claimed to be a major problem for the microcomputer software industry. It has been estimated that for every legitimate copy sold there are between two and ten illegal copies "bootlegged" from friends or colleagues (Conner & Rumelt 1991).

Unfortunately, this is not a widely recognized form of property, as shown by two studies. Vitell and Davis (1990) found software copying to be one of the most acceptable of 27 questionable consumer practices, while Soloman and Brien, (1997) reported that over half of the students surveyed admitted making unauthorized copies. They consider this to be a very conservative estimate of the proportion who copy. Such an attitude may lead to the feeling that other forms of "victimless" stealing also are acceptable. Pirating software is an "economic short-cut" in that a good is acquired without cost to the user or apparent harm to the original owner (Taylor & Shim 1993). Computer software is so readily copied and personal computer processing cycles are usually treated as a free resource (Green & Gilbert 1987).

The cognitive moral philosophies that individuals use for piracy and privacy invasion assume significance specially because the situations are relatively new and the societal norms are not crystallized. In this context the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) provides a volitional (intentional) self-regulating mechanism for cognitive processes. …

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