Restaurant Study Finds That A Little Surveillance Provides Large Benefits

Two bills in the Missouri legislature would enable the state to collect sales tax for Internet sales like it does for transactions at "brack-and-mortar" stores.
A Washington University study found that theft-monitoring software at chain restaurants helps increase sales. | Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

A study of 392 chain restaurants found that those using theft-monitoring software not only reduced stealing, but also increased sales. That’s apparently because employees redirected their energy to pleasing customers instead of gaming the system.

“If you cut off servers’ income from theft, they have no other way to make money except by selling things,” said Lamar Pierce, an associate professor of strategy at Washington University’s Olin School of Business and the study’s lead author.

Most managers said they didn’t use the system to confront people. Just telling employees they were being monitored was enough to change behavior.

Pierce says the research shouldn’t be read as a blanket endorsement of Big Brother tactics. “We can’t say anything about really intensive surveillance,” he said. “We can say that low-level monitoring, done in the right way and communicated to employees in the right way, can be very effective at solving a problem.”

Read more from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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