Drug testing: a way to weed out users?

Ralph E. McKinney, Patrick A. Tissington

Research output: Preprint or Working paperWorking paper


The aim of this paper is to provide managers and Human Resource executives with the basis for making drug testing policy in their organisations by presenting a critical review of existing literature on Workplace Drug Testing (WDT) and related areas which have been structured into the key areas.The key finding is whilst WDT is becoming more and more widely used, the rationale for this in terms of organizational effectiveness and safety is far from clear. Also there are significant ethical issues associated with WDT which are not always fully considered by organisations. Similarly, a cost/benefit analysis for particular organisations may well show little reason to embark on a testing policy. As a result of our review, we recommend that practitioners take a critical view of proposals introducing WDT since in many cases there is little upside to such a policy and a largely under-researched downside. There are also wider implications for society as a whole since the issue of drug taking as a whole is clearly a matter of great importance to practically every country in the world. The workplace is not at all immune from the impact of drug taking and perhaps a knee-jerk response by managers is to attempt to exclude anyone with any sort of drug habit through the use of WDT. This type of review with a specific HR focus has not been carried out before despite several calls for a more rational approach to the area.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBirmingham (UK)
PublisherAston University
ISBN (Print)978-1-85449-761-1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

Publication series

NameAston Business School research paper
PublisherAston University
No.RP 0921


  • drug testing
  • screening models
  • motivation
  • organisational social control


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