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Management Professor’s Research Highlighted on Jimmy Kimmel

February 14, 2013, Christie Mitchell

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John Pearson, Ph.D.

Dr. John M. Pearson, an Associate Professor of Management at Southern Illinois University, recently had his research featured on the Today Show, Jimmy Kimmel and other news media around the world.

Dr. Pearson, and his research colleague, Dr. Joseph Ugrin, an assistant professor of accounting at Kansas State University and alumni of the SIU Accounting doctoral program, investigated cyberloafing – which is using company provided internet resources for non-work related activities - and the effects of Internet use policies, detection, and enforcement on reducing cyberloafing.

According to Newswise, the average employee spends 60 to 80 percent of his or her time on the Internet at the office visiting websites that do not involve their jobs. Drs. Pearson and Ugrin found that all employees, across all age groups, are distracted from their work during the day at alarming rates. “Older people are doing things like managing their finances, while young people found it much more acceptable to spend time on social networking sites like Facebook,” Ugrin states. Dr. Pearson and Dr. Ugrin also discovered that acceptable use policies are not enough to stop workers from wasting time at work and that sanctions must be consistently enforced for policies to be effective.

“This isn’t a new issue,” states Dr. Pearson, “At one time employees would go to the water cooler to take a break. However, now it is easier for employees to waste time and not get caught. Computers have taken the place of the water cooler."

Dr. Pearson and Dr. Ugrin discovered that there is a fine line between a company monitoring their employees’ online behavior (and their productivity levels) and lowering the morale of employees due to monitoring and perceptions of invading the employee’s privacy. Dr. Pearson also explains that a little bit of cyberloafing can be good.  “Short breaks lead to overall increases in productivity; it becomes a problem when cyberloafing gets excessive.” To put it into perspective how much of a problem it has become, Dr. Pearson provided the following example: “Knowledge based workers can spend 4 hours per day on the internet. On average 2.4 hours of that time is spent cyberloafing.  If that worker makes $50,000 annually, $15,000 per year is associated with cyberloafing.”

The two researchers met while Dr. Urgin was a doctoral student in Accounting here at SIU.  Since then, Dr. Pearson and Dr. Ugrin have collaborated on four research publications on how computers have impacted productivity in the workplace. 

The study was recently published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.