Technical Report Organisational Citizenship Behaviour with the Potential to Threaten Internal Members’ Privacy through the Posting of Useful Information on a Weblog A Case Study of a Primary School Website in Japan

Yanagihara, Sachiko

Web 2.0 has rapidly increased individuals’ power to transmit information. Today, those who do not have the skills to edit a website can send data about their organization and its members via a weblog or content management system (CMS). Thus, the end users (i.e., not the professionals who manage information systems) can directly send information to customers (or the persons involved) using their own words. When end users send information, they must be careful that they do not send it such that the people being mentioned are identified as individuals. It is often difficult for organizations to choose what kind of information is beneficial for the people involved in them. Since the Japanese government passed the Personal Information Protection Law in 2003, which became fully effective in 2005, almost all organizations in the country must seek permission from those who might be photographed before publishing personally identifiable information (PII) on their websites, especially if the people in question are children. For example, if an organization is a school, it is critical to confirm with parents that is it okay to publish information about their children (before doing so). The need to share information among members within organizations has increased, and it is very important to consider how members can effectively create, choose, and share information. These matters (i.e., creating, choosing, and sharing information) are the same for online interactions; for example, in regard to the social networking services (SNS) of organizations (whether they are formal or informal organizations), mailing lists (MLs), and bulletin board systems (BBS). We also need to examine members’ behavior in order for information to be more effectively shared among members or across an entire organization for the purpose of online knowledge management. Such behavior is “performed by the employee as a result of personal choice” (Organ, 1988) and is known as organization citizenship behavior (OCB). Organ (1988) defined OCB as “individual behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal reward system, and that in the aggregate promotes the effective functioning of the organization.” We can find OCB in both enterprises and communities, along with a relationship between enterprises and customers, or schools and parents. Websites are significant forms of media for schools and businesses alike. Nowadays, many schools transmit data via information technology (IT). Every local government in Japan contains a management organization called an education board. Education boards manage each prefectural and municipal school (mostly primary and junior high schools); some that oversee municipal schools have rules for operating websites. All municipal primary schools in T City, the location of our case study, have websites. Education boards operate weblogs on which school staff post announcements about events, notes about children’s activities, children’s physical and emotional conditions, and messages for parents (for example, “Please bring a water bottle to school because it will be hot”). The staff (who post information and report to the school principal) assume that the readers of the weblogs are parents. The staff always post and share information with parents about their children. K Elementary School, located in T City, has a weblog. The principal is the main staff member who posts information (however, other staff have as well). In Japan, most teachers are aware that parents are members of parent-teacher associations (PTAs), and consider parents’ perspectives when posting material. Many children’s mothers and fathers both work in T City. Because they are very busy at home, they cannot hear about a story of children’s school time and cannot check on their children very well. Therefore, the principal of K Elementary School posts information for parents every day and without difficulty. Both he and other staff are always careful that they do not post any personal data belonging to children and related individuals. In January 2016, the number of children who had the flu began to increase. From that point onward, the principal began to post photos each day of a whiteboard, which contained the number of children who had attended school on that particular day (regardless of whether they had the flu). Moreover, along with every photo, he commented on the state of the children in a specific class in which many students had the flu. Sometimes, he posted that there was a class to leave early the all children and the class would close the next day. Of course, he never posted information of particular child. Detailed information sent directly by e-mail to the parents’ e-mail address only that class. Therefore, nobody of parents (exception the parents of children in that class) could not identify an individual or a class. These comments were very helpful, not only for parents the closed class or the flu children in the other class, but also for all members of the school. These statements helped most parents anticipate how many children in each grade had the flu, and the extent to which it was spreading throughout the school. If the number of children with the flu increased in a particular grade, then parents (especially mothers) prepared for when their children might catch the illness; if their children were sick, it was possible for parents to have a day off from work. However, some parents with children whose classes had been suspended speculated which children had brought the flu from other schools, and which children had caused “classes to be suspended.” The other parents complained to the principal that: “It is not good that all parents can see which classes have many sick children on the school website.” The principal was performing OCB when he posted information on the state of classes in which children had the flu. However, when parents complained, the OCB became negative behavior. The principal apologized, and posted the following comment: “I will make posts that carefully note individual information” (despite that he did not publish data on individuals). In this case, we can see that OCB can change to negative behavior (dysfunction of OCB) when speculating on all PTAs. Furthermore, it may harm many parents, even if they are receiving helpful information. In addition, those posting information on websites should consider how readers will think about it. Even though staff (teachers) post helpful knowledge (not PII) when performing OCB, some external members (i.e.,parents) regard it as a kind of PII. My case study suggests that posting indirect individual data may have bad effects on the organizational behavior of PTAs. In addition, masked data may become to personally identifiable data and violate someone’s privacy out of internal information. This case may not match the circumstances of ordinary businesses and companies. Many customers or members within an organization may be interested in individual information. However, we should be aware that OCB can become negative behavior for some members, depending on the information being dealt with (especially when it is similar to individual information).

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