A Multiple Stakeholder Model of Privacy in Organizations
Dianna L. Stone Eugene F. Stone-Romero University of Central Florida
Seventy years ago Supreme Court Justice Brandeis argued that
the makers of the Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness . . . They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, and their sensations. They conferred . . . the right to be let alone . . . the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. ( Olmstead v. U.S., 1928)
Despite what is implied by Justice Brandeis' argument, the practices of work organizations have increasingly violated individuals' expectations of privacy. As a result, there has been a growing conflict in our society between the needs of social systems for information and individuals' actual or perceived rights to privacy. The debate about privacy has recently intensified in employment contexts. One reason for this is that organizations need large amounts of information about individuals (e.g., job applicants, job incumbents) to facilitate decision making. For example, to ensure that job applicants will be successful on the job, many organizations regularly gather information on job applicants' education, family background, personality, credit, and medical history. Not surprisingly, critics have become concerned that the accumulation of information about individuals tends to enhance the power and authority of organizations at the expense of individuals' actual or perceived rights to privacy ( Gross, 1962; Privacy Protection Study Commission, 1977; Schein, 1976; Shils, 1966; E. Stone & Stone, 1990).