There are many scenarios under which investigators may wish to ask employees to serve as subjects. Three typical scenarios are:
This scenario is also research, but has raised several issues during UCAIHS reviews. This following discussion is meant to identify some of those questions, and supply guidance about what UCAIHS has generally found to be acceptable practice. However, each case is unique, and this document is not intended to guarantee any particular Committee decision.
Given that employees are often good sources of information about organizations, and in light of the asymmetrical employer-employee relationship, applied organizational research raises several ethical issues. The potential for employee coercion to participate in research is perhaps the most important of these issues, since employees often feel that they must perform at the behest of their employers. Thus, investigators must take steps to minimize employee coercion, while maintaining strong study validity.
Investigators may request that employers or managers identify potential employee subjects. It is permissible for employers to provide employee contact information at work. Researchers may contact employees via in-house mail. Such mailings may include the following:
Potential subjects may be contacted directly, or may be invited to contact the investigators. Examples of each are given below:
Note: given the busy pace of work life in many organizations, invitation to contact may yield an insufficient response rate, which could invalidate the research. While direct contact is somewhat more intrusive, it is not inherently coercive. Moreover, it is likely to yield a higher response rate, and thus more valid study findings.
To the extent possible, employees should be interviewed or surveyed in a fashion that does not reveal to the employer whether or not they are participating in the study.
In reporting research findings, to the extent possible: