Do individual traits in leaders effect CSR effectiveness? Discover more in this week’s articles.

Cognitive processes in making CSR decisions via sensemaking  
Applying the sensemaking perspective in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a recent but promising development. Using an in-depth exploratory case study, authors Richter and Arndt analyse and discuss the CSR character of British American Tobacco (BAT) Switzerland.

Findings indicate that BAT Switzerland does not follow traditional patters of building CSR. BAT Switzerland can be classified as a “legitimacy seeker,” characterised mainly by a relational identity orientation and legitimation strategies that might provide pragmatic and/or cognitive legitimacy.

The authors conclude that understanding the cognitive processes underlying the CSR decision-making process is of fundamental value when analysing and changing the CSR approach of a firm. The paper discusses boundary conditions of the CSR character framework and expand it by differentiating between process and product legitimacy, as both perspectives have important but possibly different implications for the firm.

Ulf H. Richter and Felix F. Arndt. 2018. Cognitive Processes in the CSR Decision-Making Process: A Sensemaking Perspective.
Journal of Business Ethics, 148(3), 587–602.


Authentic leader humility and team effectiveness 
Authors Rego, Cunha and Simplson assess the perceived impact of leaders’ humility (both self and other-reported) on team effectiveness, and how this relationship is mediated by balanced processing of information. Ninety-six leaders (plus 307 subordinates, 96 supervisors, and 656 peers of those leaders) participate in the study.

The findings suggest that humility in leaders (as reported by others/peers) is indirectly (i.e., through balanced processing) related to leaders’ perceived impact on team effectiveness. The study also corroborates literature pointing out the benefits of using other-reports (rather than self-reports) to measure humility and suggests adding humility to the authentic leadership research agenda.

Arménio Rego, Miguel Pina e. Cunha and Ace Volkmann Simpson. 2018. The Perceived Impact of Leaders’ Humility on Team Effectiveness: An Empirical Study.
Journal of Business Ethics, 148(1), 205–218. 


Managers’ political beliefs and gender inequality in subordinates 
To explore whether managers’ beliefs and attitudes influence gender inequality among their subordinates, these authors theorise about the relationship between managers’ political ideology, situated on a liberal–conservative continuum, and differences in the hiring, work team selection, and promotion of male versus female subordinates, as well as how a manager’s gender moderates this relationship.

The researchers analyse novel microdata from the US legal industry from 2007 to 2012 and find that large law offices whose partners are more liberal hire a larger percentage of female associates, that more-liberal partners are more likely to select female associates to be members of their client teams, and that associates whose supervising partners are more liberal have greater gender parity in promotion rates.

Further, the study finds that the ideology of male partners is significantly more influential than the ideology of female partners in affecting these differences. The researchers find little evidence that sorting on the part of higher-quality female associates drives the results.

Seth Carnahan and Brad N. Greenwood. 2018. Managers’ political beliefs and gender inequality among subordinates: Does his ideology matter more than hers?
Administrative Science Qtly, 63(2), 287-322.


“I’m not mopping the floors, I’m putting a man on the moon”: NASA leaders change the meaning of work
It is assumed that leaders can boost the motivation of employees by communicating the organisation’s ultimate aspirations, yet evidence on the effectiveness of this tactic is equivocal. On some occasions, it causes employees to view their work as more meaningful. At other times, it causes them to become dispirited.

These inconsistent findings may in part be explained by a paradox: the very features that make ultimate aspirations meaningful—their breadth and timelessness—undermine the ability of employees to see how their daily responsibilities are associated with them. To understand how leaders can help employees resolve this paradox, Andrew Carton analysed archival evidence to explore the actions of President John F. Kennedy when leading NASA in the 1960s.

Carton found that Kennedy enacted four sense-giving steps, each of which helped employees see a stronger connection between their work and NASA’s ultimate aspirations. When this connection was strongest, employees construed their day-to-day work not as short-term tasks (“I’m building electrical circuits”) but as the pursuit of NASA’s long-term objective (“I’m putting a man on the moon”) and the aspiration this objective symbolised (“I’m advancing science”). These findings redirect research by conceptualising leaders as architects who motivate employees most effectively when they provide a structural blueprint that maps the connections between employees’ everyday work and the organisation’s ultimate aspirations.

Andrew M. Carton. 2018. “I’m Not Mopping the Floors, I’m Putting a Man on the Moon”: How NASA Leaders Enhanced the Meaningfulness of Work by Changing the Meaning of Work.
Administrative Science Qtly, 63(2), 323-369. 


Responsible leadership research: A bibliometric review 
Political, religious, sports and business leaders across the world have been under scrutiny regarding allegedly unethical behaviours. The current study analyses the use of responsible leadership in management research. Using a sample of 64 articles published in SSCI-indexed journals over 10 years (2006-2016), the researchers carried out a bibliometric analysis to understand the intellectual structure of the responsible leadership literature.

The results of authorship, citation and co-citation, and factor analyses reveal the most prolific authors and the most notable journals writing and publishing on responsible leadership. The most cited works are theoretical, using Western frameworks and cultures, and focus on the concept of responsible leadership; only a few empirical/case study articles appear. Also, the most prevalent links are between theoretical works and highlight the conceptualisation, understanding, and roles and parameters of responsible leaders.

Six distinct factors emerge, denoting the groups of studies devoted to the evolution of leadership, transformational leadership, stakeholder theory and leadership, conceptualisation and understanding of the topic, and roles of responsible leaders. These various research topics show the central tenets of responsible leadership, as well as the existing gaps in the existent literature.

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Marques, Tânia, Reis, Nuno & Gomes, Jorge F. S. (2018). Responsible Leadership Research: A Bibliometric Review.
BAR – Brazilian Administration Review, 15(1), e170112.
Epub April 16, 2018.


Relationship of ethical leadership, CSR and organisational performance 
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a major part of the foodservice industry due to external forces which encourage enterprises’ responsiveness. In reality, consumers’ social concern influences their attitudes towards foodservice firms’ socially responsible practices and purchase decisions, thereby influencing senior management to react. Considering this issue, this study examines the impact of senior management’s ethical leadership in evaluating operational, commercial, and economic performances along with the mediating role of CSR in the foodservice industry. A conceptual model was formulated and empirically tested based on responses from 196 foodservice franchise firms in South Korea. The results indicated ethical leadership significantly influenced CSR and operational performance, while CSR also had a positive effect on operational and commercial performances. Additionally, operational performance had a significantly positive influence on commercial performance, which subsequently enhanced economic performance. Overall, the findings highlight the role that ethical leadership exhibited by senior management of foodservice franchises influenced initiation of CSR activities, which provide implications for research and industry practice and is outlined.

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Min-Seong Kim and Brijesh Thapa. 2018. Relationship of Ethical Leadership, Corporate Social Responsibility and Organizational Performance.
Sustainability, 10(2), 447