IT monitoring effective in deterring restaurant fraud

September 3, 2013

For many firms, losing significant revenue and profit to employee theft has been a cost of doing business. But a new study from Washington University in St. Louis finds that information technology monitoring is strikingly effective in reducing theft and fraud, especially in the restaurant industry.

"Cleaning House: The Impact of Information Technology Monitoring on Employee Theft and Productivity," by Lamar Pierce, PhD, associate professor of strategy at Olin Business School, finds that mining sales data of employees increased restaurant revenue about 7 percent.

The paper is co-written with Daniel Snow, associate professor at the Marriott School at Brigham Young University, and Andrew McAfee, research scientist at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Using monitoring software called Restaurant Guard developed by NCR, the researchers measured the effect of theft and fraud before and after installation of the software at 392 restaurants in 39 states.

Pierce and his team found that after installing the , revenue per increased an average of $2,982 per week, about 7 percent. Restaurants also experienced a 22 percent drop in theft.

"The NCR system works with data directly from the point of sale," Pierce says. "It reduces the need for managers to use cameras and constantly watch their employees. In that sense it's not more surveillance, it's better and less intrusive ."

Employee theft and fraud are big problems in the United States, adding up to more than a $200 billion annual impact on the economy.

"Our results suggest a counterintuitive and hopeful pattern in ," the researchers write. "Employee theft is a remediable problem at the individual employee level. While individual differences in moral preferences may indeed exist, realigning incentives through organizational design can have a powerful effect in reducing corrupt behaviors in a way that benefits both the firm and its workers."

Explore further: Employers feel no love for unscrupulous practice of 'service sweethearting'

More information:

Related Stories

Chinese firm accused of stealing US software

June 28, 2013

(AP)—China's largest wind turbine company and three people are accused of trade secrets from a U.S. software company, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Recommended for you

Chimpanzees shed light on origins of human walking

October 6, 2015

A research team led by Stony Brook University investigating human and chimpanzee locomotion have uncovered unexpected similarities in the way the two species use their upper body during two-legged walking. The results, reported ...

How much for that Nobel prize in the window?

October 3, 2015

No need to make peace in the Middle East, resolve one of science's great mysteries or pen a masterpiece: the easiest way to get yourself a Nobel prize may be to buy one.

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

Who you gonna trust? How power affects our faith in others

October 6, 2015

One of the ongoing themes of the current presidential campaign is that Americans are becoming increasingly distrustful of those who walk the corridors of power – Exhibit A being the Republican presidential primary, in which ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.