University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 20.12.2016 Employees’ personal internet usage at work is not necessarily detrimental to job performance (Jiang)

Start date: Dec 20, 2016 12:00 PM

End date: Dec 20, 2016 03:00 PM

Location: Mattilanniemi, Agora Aud 2

Hemin JiangM.Sc. Hemin Jiang defends his doctoral dissertation in Information Systems Science "Employee Personal Internet Usage in the Workplace". Opponent  Dr. Greta L. Polites (Kent State University, USA) and custos Professor Mikko Siponen (University of Jyväskylä).

In his dissertation, Hemin Jiang examined the phenomenon of employees personal Internet usage in the workplace (PIU), which refers to employees Internet behaviors at work for non-work related purposes – checking and sending non-work-related emails, surfing news sites, visiting social network sites, e-banking, stock trading, and online shopping, chatting, and gaming among others. The dissertation discussed in what conditions PIU is likely to be detrimental or beneficial to job performance. The dissertation also investigated how Internet monitoring, a policy commonly deployed in organizations of many countries, affects employees’ behaviors and perceptions.

The dissertation theoretically proposed that employees’ job performance is likely to suffer when they engage in PIU as an escape of negative affections generated by work-related stressors. In contrast, employees’ job performance may be improved when they engage in PIU as a mental break or to facilitate a work-life balance.

The dissertation also found that Internet monitoring did not work to regulate employees’ PIU behavior. Instead, Internet monitoring led to employees’ dissatisfaction. As an expression of the dissatisfaction, employees decreased their organizational citizen ship behaviour, a type of employees’ voluntary behaviors that are beneficial to organizations.  In other words, as a policy, Internet monitoring can be worse than useless for regulating employees’ PIU behaviors; this is particularly the case for knowledge workers, such as software programmers.

Jiang’s dissertation can help employees understand whether their PIU behaviors improve or damage their job performance. The dissertation can also help organizations recognize the conditions under which PIU should be discouraged or allowed, so that organizations can offer more effective ways to take advantage of the positive side of PIU while avoiding the negative side.


More information:

Hemin Jiang,, 040 805 3721
Communications Intern Katja Ketola,, puh. 040 805 3638

Hemin Jiang has graduated from the school of management of Harbin Institute of Technology, China. He has worked as a doctoral student at the Faculty of IT in University of Jyväskylä from 2013 to 2016.

The dissertation has been published in Jyväskylä studies in computing 257; ISSN 1456-5390, ISBN 978-951-39-6901-1. It is available at Library Publishing Unit, tel. +358 40 805 3825, The dissertation can be read at JYX:



Information technology (IT) devices connected to the Internet, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones, have become pervasive in the workplace. These IT devices have greatly facilitated the performance of job tasks for employees. At the same time, employees are increasingly using these technologies for non-work-related purposes during office hours, which is called personal Internet usage in the workplace (PIU). Examples of PIU include, but are not limited to, checking and sending non-work-related emails, surfing news sites, visiting social network sites, e-banking, stock trading, and online shopping, chatting, and gaming. Previous studies on PIU present two schools of thought on PIU outcomes. Negative PIU studies see PIU as decreasing employees’ job performance by stealing their work time. In contrast, positive PIU studies see PIU as enhancing employees’ productivity, social capital, learning ability, and creative performance, which may eventually improve their job performance as well. However, it is unknown from previous studies the conditions under which PIU is likely to result in a positive or negative impact on employees’ job performance. Further, although Internet monitoring has been widely adopted by organizations to regulate employees’ PIU, it is not known from previous studies the impact of Internet monitoring on employees’ various behaviors and perceptions. This dissertation, consisting of two studies, attempts to address the two issues above. In study 1, we conducted a literature review of PIU and examined the state-of-the-art research on PIU as well as research gaps in existing PIU literature; next, we developed a theoretical model to understand the conditions under which PIU is likely to positively or negatively affect employees’ job performance. In study 2, we conducted a field experiment to examine how Internet monitoring, a PIU policy which has been widely adopted by organizations, affects employees’ PIU behaviors, policy satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). This dissertation has important implications for employees with respect to understanding the impact of PIU on their job performance, and for organizations in terms of developing and implementing better policies to avoid the disadvantages of PIU without sacrificing its benefits.

Keywords: Personal Internet Usage in the workplace (PIU), Job Performance, Internet Monitoring, Policy Satisfaction, Organizational Citizenship Behavior (OCB)

More information

M.Sc. Hemin Jiang