Self Construal and Positioning of CSR Initiatives: Key Factors Influencing Employee Perceptions and Participation

By Brynn Harrington, Gail Ann Berger and Mindy Douthit.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives impact a number of key stakeholder groups, including customers, shareholders, governmental organizations, and employees. Businesses should design CSR strategies to meet stakeholder needs. In this paper, we focus on the individual employee. Employees are a particularly important audience for CSR strategies and initiatives because they are often active participants in their employers’ CSR efforts. Corporations seek to involve employees in CSR programs in order to bolster the strength of their efforts, tie CSR initiatives to financial results, and position themselves as responsible and desirable employers. Likewise, actively engaged employees benefit from participation through increased job satisfaction, pride, learning, and in some cases, social and environmental responsibility that translates into their personal lives. Because of the pivotal role of employees in the success of CSR initiatives, it is critical that employers understand how to best communicate and position their plans to their diverse employee populations.

Using survey findings gathered from 139 non-executive-level employees at a global chemical company we sought to understand how 1) independent versus interdependent self-construal and 2) strategic versus moral motivation impact the employees’ a) perception of the firm's CSR efforts/practices and b) willingness to participate in/contribute to CSR efforts. We found that independent self-construal and strategic motivation had the greatest positive impact on CSR perception and participation. There was no conclusive evidence of a significant interaction between self-construal and motivation.

Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility, Employee Participation, Employee Perception, Self Construal, Positioning

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.211-226. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 764.441KB).

Brynn Harrington

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

Brynn Harrington is an organizational change/sustainability consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her professional expertise is in internal/external communications, program design, organizational strategy, and individual/organizational behavior change. She has consulted with a range of private and public sector clients, most recently NetApp, Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting, Walmart, and the Taproot Foundation. She received her M.S. in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University and her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Dr. Gail Ann Berger

Lecturer, Learning and Organizational Change, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

Gail Berger is a Lecturer at Northwestern University in the School of Education and Social Policy, Kellogg School of Management, and McCormick School of Engineering. She brings academic and professional experience in the areas of conflict resolution, leadership development, succession planning and team building. She has consulted to small firms, Fortune 500 companies, and non-profit organizations. Her consulting work focuses on executive assessments, succession planning, leadership development and teambuilding. Some of the organizations she has worked with include Driehaus Capital Management, Grant Thornton, Jewish Federation of Chicago, Lockheed Martin, Masco, McDonalds, and Safer Foundation. Professor Berger has won several teaching awards and her research has been presented at national conferences and published in leading journals. She received her Ph.D. in Management and Organizations from the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. She also holds a M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from Loyola University and a B.A./B.S. in Psychology and Elementary Education from Boston University

Dr. Mindy Douthit

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA

Mindy Douthit is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University in the School of Education & Social Policy’s Master of Learning & Organizational Change program. She brings both professional and academic expertise in the areas of organizational development and change and social network analysis. She spent several years with Anderson Consulting working in the areas of organization analysis and design, human-computer interaction, and training design and development. As Manager with The International Forum, she designed senior executive educational programs for a global clientele. She holds a PhD in Organization Theory and Strategy from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Her research and teaching interests include organizational change and innovation, entrepreneurship, competitive strategy and cooperative behavior within organizations.

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