In healthcare, as in society, surveillance is likely to be perceived negatively. Professional and managerial interpretations of control can be contrasting, and direct monitoring of staff performance in healthcare is often difficult because of the nature of organisational structures and professional autonomy. Performance monitoring is mandatory through governance, and increased propensity for litigation around harm and poor practice (Timmons, 2003). This approach to surveillance naturally leads to divisions between “good” and “bad” employees which lead to the shaping of behavioural norms (Sewell & Barker, 2006). Caring surveillance is “policing the contractual arrangement between principal and agent to minimize opportunistic behaviour” (Sewell et al, 2012: 191), and is more acceptable for employees and employers as it implies surveillance is undertaken for the greater good (Sewell et al, 2012). Coercive surveillance, on the other hand, is performance measurement “as a case of the few watching the many in the interests of the few” (Sewell et al, 2012: 191), and can lead to resentment amongst individuals. I ask, can organisational surveillance be simultaneously “caring and coercive”?
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