17 Sep 2014

Ethan Bernstein on Balancing Privacy and Openness in the Workplace

Ethan Bernstein

The Transparency Trap” by Harvard Business School professor Ethan Bernstein argues that privacy is just as important as openness at work. Through field research and experiments, Bernstein found too much transparency can leave employees feeling exposed; as a result, they may actively conceal what they’re doing – even when making improvements – reducing productivity and, paradoxically, transparency. He recommends that companies create four zones of privacy at work: around teams of people (zones of attention), between feedback and evaluation (zones of judgment), between decision rights and improvement rights (zones of slack), and for set periods of experimentation (zones of time).


More on "The Transparency Trap"

Wall Street Journal on Professor Bernstein’s research

Listen to Professor Bernstein on The Business podcast series

How Being Filmed Changes Employee Behavior, HBR Blogs
by Ethan Bernstein

How to Manage Scheduling Software Fairly, HBR Blogs
by Ethan Bernstein

Are You an Unwitting Audience to Productivity Theater?, iDoneThis Blog

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