Does CSR make better citizens? The influence of employee CSR programs on employee societal citizenship behavior outside of work

AuthorLisa D. Lewin,Danielle E. Warren,Mohammed AlSuwaidi
Date01 September 2020
Published date01 September 2020
Bus Soc Rev. 2020;125:271–288.
Received: 24 May 2020
Accepted: 26 May 2020
DOI: 10.1111/basr.12212
Does CSR make better citizens? The influence
of employee CSR programs on employee societal
citizenship behavior outside of work
Lisa D.Lewin1
Danielle E.Warren2
© 2020 W. Michael Hoffman Center for Business Ethics at Bentley University.
1Management, Marketing and Finance,
SUNY College at Old Westbury, Old
Westbury, NY, USA
2Management & Global Business, Rutgers,
The State University of NJ, Newark, NJ,
3College of Business and Economics,
United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain,
United Arab Emirates
Danielle E. Warren, Management & Global
Business, Rutgers, The State University of
NJ, Newark, NJ, USA.
While corporate social responsibility (CSR) is expected to
benefit the firm and attract employees, few have examined
the effects of CSR on employees outside of work. Extending
the organizational citizenship literature, we conceptual-
ize employee engagement in CSR at work and outside of
work as a form of “societal citizenship behavior.” Across
two studies of working adults, we examine the relationship
between identification with an employer that engages in
CSR and different forms of employee societal citizenship
behaviors (e.g., donations, volunteering) outside of work. In
Study 1 (N=430 employees), we focus upon CSR donation
programs and find that identification with an employer that
engages in CSR and participating in employer CSR donation
programs affect employee citizenship behavior (donations)
outside of work. In Study 2 (N=285 employees), we exam-
ine a broader set of citizenship behaviors inside and outside
of work and find the relationships hold. Identification with
an employer that engages in CSR relates positively to citi-
zenship behavior at work and outside of work. In total, our
study results suggest that employer CSR affects employee
citizenship behaviors outside of work. We end with direc-
tions for future research.
charity, corporate social responsibility (CSR), organizational
Each year, companies adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs that directly involve em-
ployees such as employee charitable donations through payroll systems, matching employee charitable
donations with company funds, and employer sponsored volunteer programs (America's Charities,
2015). Employers widely believe that participation in these types of programs improves employee
engagement (America's Charities, 2015). For example, 90% of Fortune 500 companies have employee
volunteer programs on company time, and all 100 firms on Fortune's list of “100 Best Companies to
Work For” encourage employee volunteering in one form or another (Cycyota, Ferrante, & Schroeder,
2016). Related research has shown that companies use employee-oriented CSR policies as a strategic
management tool to increase employee engagement (Flammer & Luo, 2017).
Participation in employee-oriented CSR programs has been shown to have positive social benefits
for both charitable organizations and the employees that participate (Cycyota et al., 2016; Peloza
& Hassay, 2006). For example, Peloza and Hassay (2006) interviewed employees who volunteered
through their firms with several charities and found that partnering with firms gave legitimacy to
charities and their associated causes, which enabled the charities to attract new supporters. Some of
their interviewees went on to volunteer on their personal time, and even to recruit family members.
While research has begun to explore the relationship between CSR as promoting employee organi-
zational identification and organizational commitment (e.g., Daily, Bishop, & Govindarajulu, 2009; El-
Kassar, Messarra, & El-Khalil, 2017; Newman, Miao, Hofman, & Zhu, 2016; Tahlil Azim, 2016), there
has been very little research examining the effects of organizational identification as it relates to CSR,
on employee behaviors within and beyond the workplace. In a review of the literature, Gond, El Akremi,
Swaen, and Babu (2017) find that employee behaviors studies in relation to CSR have focused on extra-role
and organizational citizenship behaviors, in-role performance, and employee retention, but there is no dis-
cussion of any behaviors outside the workplace. Previous research has documented the effects of employee
organizational identification on organizational citizenship and prosocial behavior directed at coworkers and
the organizations themselves (e.g., O’Reilly & Chatman, 1986), but we know little about the ways that CSR
affects employee behavior outside of work. This paper seeks to explore the question of whether identifying
with a firm that engages in CSR leads individuals to increase citizenship behaviors at work and beyond.
In this paper, we employ two studies that tackle the question of whether employer CSR programs
lead to employees who are more willing to give back to society at work and outside of work. Our first
study includes a sample of 430 employees who work for firms that engage in CSR programs. We
examine the relationship between employee identification with the employer and employee engage-
ment in donation programs at work and donations outside of work. We find that employees who more
strongly identify with their CSR-friendly employer are more likely to participate in donation programs
at work and subsequently more likely to donate outside of work.
In the second study, we broaden the scope of employee citizenship behaviors performed at work
and outside of work by adapting O’Reilly and Chatman's (1986) scale of prosocial behavior to in-
corporate society. We examine the same relationship between organizational identification with a
CSR-friendly employer and societal citizenship behaviors, but we test the relationships with a sample
of 285 employees, in which roughly half of the employees do not work for employers that offer CSR
programs. The nature of the second sample provides an opportunity to test the relationships with a
broader mix of employees and more citizenship behaviors and we find the relationships hold. More
specifically, identification with an employer that offers CSR programs leads to more citizenship be-
haviors at work and subsequently, citizenship behaviors outside of work. By using a behavioral mea-
sure for both studies (donating study pay), we are able to gain insight into the causal relationships. By
asking the study participants to donate their study pay to charity at the start of the study, we are able to

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT