Purpose – Employee theft is a large problem for firms of all sizes, particularly small businesses where profit margins are often slim. The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of current and previous employees regarding their advice for detecting and preventing employee theft. Design/methodology/approach – The study presents and analyzes the responses and ensuing discussion to questions posed to 79 individuals in three college‐level entrepreneurship courses. Using a controlled internet discussion board, an interactive dialogue developed among the study participants. The relationship of these findings to the existing literature on employee theft and how these findings support and expand the scholarship base is examined. Findings – According to the qualitative research findings, a majority of participants in the study recommend implementation or increase usage of video surveillance, and better control systems and record keeping. Other recommendations include better hiring, using a “ringer” on staff, raising salaries, offering free products for employees, and other advice. Some of these findings correspond to previous research on employee theft, while some results offer new and expanded advice for managers. Research limitations/implications – Limitations of the study are stated, and recommendations are made for further qualitative and empirical research of employee theft in follow‐up to these findings. Practical implications – The employees surveyed in this study recommend that greater surveillance and managerial diligence in control of the operations is needed to decrease employee theft. This advice is from the “inside” by current and former employees who have inside knowledge and first‐hand experience as witnesses to employee theft in businesses today. Originality/value – The methodology used for the research in this study is innovative and fairly recent, because it involves the use of controlled discussion groups on the internet which allow for thorough scrutiny by the research and greater freedom by participants to compose their perceptions. In addition, study participants also may have perceived a higher level of anonymity and confidentiality using this medium, which may result in more accurate findings that traditional surveys or in‐person research methods.
International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Nov 1, 2006
Keywords: Theft; Employee behaviour; Retail management; Retailing; Stock control; Surveillance