Much research on CSR focuses on the business outcome, but what about the effect on employees? This week’s research tidbits takes a look.

How hypocritical social responsibility strategies hurt employees and firms 
Extant research provides compelling conceptual and empirical arguments that company-external (e.g., philanthropic) as well as company-internal (i.e., employee-directed) CSR efforts positively affect employees, but does so largely in studies assessing effects from the two CSR types independently of each other.

In contrast, this paper investigates external–internal CSR jointly, examining the effects of (in)consistent external–internal CSR strategies on employee attitudes, intentions, and behaviours. The research takes a social and moral identification theory view and advances the core hypothesis that inconsistent CSR strategies, defined as favouring external over internal stakeholders, trigger employees’ perceptions of corporate hypocrisy which, in turn, lead to emotional exhaustion and turnover.

In Study 1, a cross-industry employee survey (n = 3410) indicates that inconsistent CSR strategies with larger external than internal efforts increase employees’ turnover intentions via perceived corporate hypocrisy and emotional exhaustion.

In Study 2, a multi-source secondary dataset (n = 1902) demonstrates that inconsistent CSR strategies increase firms’ actual employee turnover. Combined, the two studies demonstrate the importance of taking into account the interests of both external and internal stakeholders of the firm when researching and managing CSR.

Sabrina Scheidler, Laura Marie Edinger-Schons, Jelena Spanjol & Jan Wieseke. 2019. Scrooge Posing as Mother Teresa: How Hypocritical Social Responsibility Strategies Hurt Employees and Firms.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(2), 339–358.


Socially responsible HRM and employee support for external CSR 
Building on the human resource management (HRM) behavioural and organisational climate literature, this study explores the linkage between socially responsible HRM (SRHRM) and employee support for perceived external corporate social responsibility (CSR) (that is, CSR directed toward external stakeholders) and the underlying social and psychological process.

Multilevel analysis of data gathered over two separate periods confirmed that the relationship between SRHRM and employee support for external CSR initiatives of the employing organisation is mediated by the organisational CSR climate. Moreover, the indirect effect is contingent on perceived internal CSR (that is, CSR directed toward employees).

This study extends CSR research into the HRM domain and develops a better understanding of the micro-foundations of CSR (individual actions and interactions) by integrating the micro- and macro-perspectives of CSR. Based on the study findings, this paper also discusses theoretical contributions and future research directions.

Jie Shen & Hongru Zhang. 2019.  Socially Responsible Human Resource Management and Employee Support for External CSR: Roles of Organizational CSR Climate and Perceived CSR Directed Toward Employees. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 156(3), 875–888.


The impact of CSR attributions on employee outcomes 
Employing a time-lagged sample of 371 North American individuals working full time in a wide range of industries, occupations, and levels, the authors contribute to research on employee outcomes of corporate social responsibility (CSR) attributions as substantive (cause-serving) or symbolic (self-serving). Utilizing a mediated moderation model, this study extends previous findings by explaining how and why CSR attributions are related with work-related attitudes and subsequent individual performance.

In support of the hypotheses, the findings indicate that the relationships between CSR attributions and individual performance are mediated through person–organisation fit and work-related attitudes. Additionally, when CSR is perceived as important, substantive CSR is positively related to, and symbolic CSR is negatively related to, perception of fit with the organisation.

These findings contribute toward our understanding of the complex effect CSR has on employees’ work outcomes. Practical implications and future research directions are discussed.

Magda B. L. Donia, Sigalit Ronen, Carol-Ann Tetrault Sirsly & Silvia Bonaccio. 2019. CSR by Any Other Name? The Differential Impact of Substantive and Symbolic CSR Attributions on Employee Outcomes. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(2), 503–523.


Generational differences in what meaningful work means
The search for meaningful work has been of interest to researchers from a variety of disciplines for decades and seems to have grown even more recently. Much of the literature assumes that employees share a sense of what is meaningful in work and there isn’t much attention given to how and why meanings might differ (Rosso et al. in Res Organ Behav 30:91–127, 2010).

Researchers have not only called for more research studying demographic differences in definitions of meaning (e.g., Michaelson et al. in J Bus Ethics 121(1):77–90, 2014), but also more research utilizing mixed methods to study psychological concepts like meaningful work (e.g., Eid and Diener, in Eid, Diener (eds) Handbook of multimethod measurement in psychology, American Psychological Association, Washington, 2006).

This study specifically examines differences across generational cohorts on their prioritisation of sources of meaningful work through qualitative, in-depth interviews followed by a more generalisable, quantitative survey. Findings from the qualitative study show that generational cohorts define the meaning in their jobs differently, and they hold negative perceptions about the lack of desire for meaning in each of the other cohorts.

Study 2 maps generational cohorts on the comprehensive model of meaningful work designed by Lips-Wiersma and Morris (J Bus Ethics 88(3):491–511, 2009) to reveal that although there are some differences in prioritisation of sources of meaningful work, all generational cohorts share similar desire to “develop and become themselves” when asked about their definitions of meaningful work. Implications and future research are discussed.

Kelly Pledger Weeks & Caitlin Schaffert. 2019. Generational Differences in Definitions of Meaningful Work: A Mixed Methods Study.
Journal of Business Ethics, 156(4), 1045–1061.


Frontline employees as CSR ambassadors 
As past research has identified frontline employees as the primary communicators of a company’s CSR, this paper reports on a large-scale quasi-field experiment aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of the levers of successful in-store, point-of-sale, CSR communication.

In cooperation with a large international retailer, the authors analysed the effects of varying in-store CSR communication strategies in 48 unique stores, combining data from a customer survey (N = 38,999), company records of customers’ real visits and purchases, and interviews with store managers.

Taking into account the nested structure of the data, the authors reveal that CSR-related training of frontline employees bestows its favourable effect on customers and customer behaviour only if it is accompanied by the store managers’ personal support for CSR.

Laura Marie Edinger-Schons, Lars Lengler-Graiff, Sabrina Scheidler & Jan Wieseke. 2019. Frontline Employees as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Ambassadors: A Quasi-Field Experiment.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(2), 359–373.


Employee disengagement and CSR 
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has been linked with numerous organisational advantages, including recruitment, retention, productivity, and morale, which relate specifically to employees. However, despite specific benefits of CSR relating to employees and their importance as a stakeholder group, it is noteworthy that a lack of attention has been paid to the individual level of analysis with CSR primarily being studied at the organisational level.

Both research and practice of CSR have largely treated the individual organisation as a “black box,” failing to account for individual differences amongst employees and the resulting variations in antecedents to CSR engagement or disengagement. This is further exacerbated by the tendency in stakeholder theory to homogenise priorities within a single stakeholder group.

In response, utilizing case study data drawn from three multinational tourism and hospitality organisations, combined with extensive interview data collected from CSR leaders, industry professionals, engaged, and disengaged employees, this exploratory research produces a finer-grained understanding of employees as a stakeholder group, identifying a number of opportunities and barriers for individual employee engagement in CSR interventions.

This research proposes that employees are situated along a spectrum of engagement from actively engaged to actively disengaged. While there are some common drivers of engagement across the entire spectrum of employees, differences also exist depending on the degree to which employees, rather than senior management, support corporate responsibility within their organisations.

Key antecedents to CSR engagement that vary depending on employees’ existing level of broader engagement include organisational culture, CSR intervention design, employee CSR perceptions, and the observed benefits of participation.

Read this Open Access article online for free

Kelsy Hejjas, Graham Miller & Caroline Scarles. 2019. “It’s Like Hating Puppies!” Employee Disengagement and Corporate Social Responsibility.
Journal of Business Ethics, 157(2), 319–337.


Immediate manager’s influence on avoiding non-green behaviours in the workplace
Although it has been recognised that employees regularly engage in non-green behaviours, little research has been conducted to explain how these behaviours may be avoided.

Using data from a three-wave study, this study tested a moderated-mediation model in which trust in the immediate manager was expected to increase the indirect effect of supervisory support for the environment on non-green behaviours through employee environmental commitment.

While the findings showed, as predicted, that exchange relationships with the immediate manager reduce the tendency of employees to engage in non-green behaviours, the indirect effect of supervisory support on non-green behaviours through employee environmental commitment was moderated at a low level of trust in the manager, contrary to predictions. Though unexpected, this result seems less surprising when discussed in the light of negotiated exchange, suggesting that employee efforts to avoid non-green behaviours need to be seen as the result of a deal between managers and subordinates.

The findings of this study contribute to the emerging literature on social exchange in an environmental context and have implications for organisations seeking to achieve environmental sustainability.

Pascal Paillé, Jorge H. Mejía Morelos, Nicolas Raineri & Florence Stinglhamber. 2019. The Influence of the Immediate Manager on the Avoidance of Non-green Behaviors in the Workplace: A Three-Wave Moderated-Mediation Model. 
Journal of Business Ethics, 155(3), 723–740.