Completed research projects

NFP75-Project «Big Data or Big Brother» (2017-2020)


Trust, data and privacy at work?

Big data can make companies more productive and smarter. Swiss companies are therefore increasingly using new technologies to improve the performance of their employees. But such techniques can destroy trust in the employer. We wanted to show how to avoid this. In addition, Big Data raises many hopes: It is meant make companies more productive, more transparent and more flexible. Big data analyses are increasingly in demand in human resources management because they allow companies to better monitor the performance of their employees. But in addition to many opportunities, Big Data in the workplace also harbors risks. Excessive control of employees can lead to a loss of trust, which nullifies the economic advantages of big data. Our NRP75 project therefore answered the following questions:

• Which Big Data methods were Swiss companies already using in HR management during the period under study?
• To what extent do they promote or damage trust in the employer?
• What potential for improvement is there from an HR, ethical and legal perspective?

We sought dialogue with practitioners and carried out empirical studies using various methods, including case studies, a large survey of Swiss companies and field experiments. Our work was divided into four phases:

1. First, we set up a Swiss network of professional partners in which all relevant stakeholders were represented.
2. In a large-scale survey of Swiss companies, we determined how big data was used in the workplace during the study period.
3. Detailed case studies then determined "best practices".
4. We created a model from the data, which we finally tested and further developed in dialogue with practitioners.

Many aspects of our project were innovative pioneering achievements: Up until the beginning of our investigation, there was no reliable data on how Swiss companies used big data methods in human resources management. The issue of trust played a key role in this. In addition, ethical and legal aspects in this context had been ignored. With its interdisciplinary perspective, our research strengthened Switzerland as a scientific location and was also highly relevant for practitioners.


Our NFP75 project was a joint project of the Research Institute for Work and Employment Research (FAA-HSG) and the Institute for Business Ethics. It was divided into the following four project phases over a period of three years:


Prof. Dr. Antoinette Weibel, Prof. Dr. Isabelle Wildhaber, Dr. Christoph Schank, Dr. Ulrich Leicht-Deobald, Dr. Simon Schafheitle, Dr. Gabriel Kasper, Dr. Isabel Ebert.
This project team also owns the copyright for the graphic above.


You can find literature on the findings from this project in our list below:


(PDF download)

Berner Kommentar

A work of the century has been completed!

31. August 2021 - A work of the century has been completed!

The Berner Kommentar, which had not been revised for over 75 years, underwent a comprehensive revision by the two authors Isabelle Wildhaber and Sevda Dede.

This work of many years was duly celebrated with a party in Zurich on the occasion of the new publication by Stämpfli Verlag Bern.

We would like to thank all those involved and especially the publisher for the successful collaboration.

Click here to get to the post on Isabelle Wildhaber's LinkedIn profile.