Losing information is like losing an arm: employee reactions to data loss

Tamar Israeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A range of theories dealing with the relationship between people and technology focus on the ways people use available tools and technology for the purpose of extending their physical body. One way of creating a mentally extended self is through the digital possessions a person accumulates and organises. Digital possessions are comprised of digital items such as documents that a person identifies as belonging to him and representing his identity. The loss of a document thus translates to the loss of identity. The research literature on the loss of information in organisations deals primarily with the harm caused to companies. This Study examined employee attitudes towards the loss of information. The study was carried out using semi-structured interviews with 15 employees at an Israeli organisation, where a malfunction of the Outlook programme led to a loss of information. The employees experienced feelings of helplessness and loss of control upon discovering that their information was missing and compared the loss of their information to losing an organ. These feelings indicate that loss of information severely harms employees. In light of these findings, organisations may want to consider implementing employee training on personal information management practices, in addition to their security and privacy policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1297-1307
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Information loss
  • digital possessions
  • employee attitudes
  • human–machine interaction
  • personal information management
  • self-extension


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