This week we look at some interesting research on a different facet to CSR. In particular, the effect on employees, their engagement and work-life balance.

Does CSR lead to employee work addiction?
Recent research highlights the positive effects of organisational CSR engagement on employee outcomes, such as job and life satisfaction, performance, and trust. The authors argue that the current debate fails to recognise the potential risks associated with CSR.

In this study, the authors focus on the risk of work addiction. The authors hypothesise that CSR has per se a positive effect on employees and can be classified as a resource. However, the authors also suggest the existence of an array of unintended negative effects of CSR. Since CSR positively influences an employee’s organisational identification, as well as his or her perception of engaging in meaningful work, which in turn motivates them to work harder while neglecting other spheres of their lives such as private relationships or health, CSR indirectly increases work addiction.

Accordingly, organisational identification and work meaningfulness both act as buffering variables in the relationship, thus suppressing the negative effect of CSR on work addiction, which weakens the positive role of CSR in the workplace. Drawing on a sample of 565 Swiss employees taken from the 2017 Swiss Public Value Atlas dataset, the results provide support for the rationale.

The results also provide evidence that the positive indirect effects of organisational CSR engagement on work addiction, via organisational identification and work meaningfulness, become even stronger when employees care for the welfare of the wider public (i.e., the community, nation, or world). Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Read this Open Access article for free online.

Steven A. Brieger, Stefan Anderer, Andreas Fröhlich, Anne Bäro & Timo Meynhardt. 2020. Too Much of a Good Thing? On the Relationship Between CSR and Employee Work Addiction.

Journal of Business Ethics, 166(2), 311–329.

Engaging employees in CSR
This research merges literature from organisational behaviour and marketing to garner insight into how organisations can maximise the benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for enhanced CSR and organisational engagement of employees.

Across two field experiments, the authors demonstrate that the effectiveness of employee co-creation activities in increasing employees’ positive CSR perceptions is moderated by self-construal (i.e., whether an individual views the self as relatively independent from or interdependent with others). In particular, the positive effect of co-creation on CSR perceptions emerges only for employees with a salient interdependent self-construal (either measured as an individual difference or experimentally manipulated).

Moreover, the results demonstrate that increased positive CSR perceptions then predict increased CSR engagement and organisational engagement. The research thus highlights the need to consider self-construal when trying to utilise co-creation to predict CSR engagement and organisational engagement, via CSR perceptions.

Bonnie Simpson, Jennifer L. Robertson & Katherine White. 2020. How Co-creation Increases Employee Corporate Social Responsibility and Organizational Engagement: The Moderating Role of Self-Construal.

Journal of Business Ethics, 166(2), 331–350.

How and when does corporate giving lead to competitive performance?
The corporate ethics literature has considerably focused on whether giving (corporate philanthropy) results in getting (firm performance). However, the relationship between corporate philanthropy and performance and the underlying mechanisms remain unclear.

Drawing on signalling and cue consistency theories, the authors develop and test a model that specifies whether, how, and when corporate philanthropy benefits relative competitive performance from a micro-process perspective. Using a Chinese sample of 1623 employees, 145 CEOs, and 145 human resources managers, the authors found that corporate philanthropy could positively influence relative competitive performance through the internal processes—organisation-level citizenship behaviours of employees.

Moreover, work–life balance practices strengthen the aforementioned mediation. In particular, when a firm performs high levels of work–life balance practices, corporate philanthropy tends to promote more citizenship behaviours in the entire organisation, thereby enhancing the relative competitive performance of the firm. By contrast, when organisations perform low levels of work–life balance practices, the aforementioned mediation becomes nonsignificant. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Wenwen Zhao & Zhe Zhang. 2020. How and When Does Corporate Giving Lead to Getting? An Investigation of the Relationship Between Corporate Philanthropy and Relative Competitive Performance from a Micro-process Perspective.

Journal of Business Ethics, 166(2), 425–440.

Involving employees in decisions about corporate philanthropy
Corporate Philanthropy (CP) is multi-dimensional, differs between sectors and involves both individual and organisational decision-making to achieve business and social goals. However, the CP literature characteristically focuses on strategic decisions made by business leaders and ignores the role of employees, especially those in lower status and lower paid positions.

To redress this imbalance, the authors conducted a qualitative study of employees’ involvement in CP processes in ten workplaces in the South East of England to identify whether and how they are involved in CP decision-making and to capture their perspective on the nature of CP and the benefits generated by such activities. The authors specifically chose to study workplaces where employees are involved in the actual execution of the CP strategy, prioritising companies with a visible presence on the high street.

The results illustrate the benefits of involving employees in CP decision-making, which the authors argue derives in part from the ‘liminal-like states’ that typify CP activities organised by shop floor staff, involving the temporary overturning of hierarchies, humanising of workplaces and opportunities for lower level staff to prioritise their personal philanthropic preferences and signal their charitable identity to colleagues and customers. Whilst the data also suggest that CP decision-making remains predominantly top-down and driven by profit-oriented goals, the authors conclude that employees should be involved in choosing charitable causes as well as in designing and implementing workplace fundraising, in order to maximise the advantages of CP for the company and for wider society.

Read this open Access article online for free.

Beth Breeze & Pamala Wiepking. 2020. Different Drivers: Exploring Employee Involvement in Corporate Philanthropy.

Journal of Business Ethics, 165(3), 453–467.