To Thine Own Self Be True? Employees’ Judgments of the Authenticity of Their Organization’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program
- First Online:
- 1.6k Downloads
Despite recognizing the importance of developing authentic corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, noticeably absent from the literature is consideration for how employees distinguish between authentic and inauthentic CSR programs. This is somewhat surprising given that employees are essentially the face of their organization and are largely expected to act as ambassadors for the organization’s CSR program (Collier and Esteban in Bus Ethics 16:19–33, 2007). The current research, by conducting depth interviews with employees, builds a better understanding of how employees differentiate between authentic and inauthentic CSR programs, and how these judgments influence their perceptions of the organization. We find that employees rely on two different referent standards to form authenticity judgments—the extent to which the image put forth in the CSR program aligns with the organization’s true identity and the extent to which the CSR program itself is developmental. To assess the former, employees draw on cues about resource commitment, alignment between elements of the organization’s CSR program, emotional engagement, justice, and embeddedness. The latter assessments are based on the extent to which the organization adopts a leadership role with regards to its CSR initiatives. We also find that perceived authenticity can lead to positive outcomes such as organizational identification and employee connections. This study contributes to the broad literatures on both CSR and authenticity, as well as more specifically adding to the conversation on authenticity as a potentially valuable lens for enriching business ethics theorizing.
KeywordsAuthenticity Corporate social responsibility Employee perceptions Interviews Organizational self Socially constructed standard
- Ashforth, B. E., & Mael, F. (1989). Social identity theory and the organization. Academy of Management Review, 14(1), 20–39.Google Scholar
- Berry, L. L. (1983). Relationship marketing. In L. L. Berry et al. (Eds.), Emerging perspectives in relationship marketing (pp. 25–34). Chicago: American Marketing Association.Google Scholar
- Boyatzis, R. E. (1998). Transforming qualitative information: Thematic analysis and code development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Cropanzano, R., & Ambrose, M. L. (2001). Procedural and distributive justice are more similar than you think: A monistic perspective and a research agenda. In J. Greenberg & R. Cropanzano (Eds.), Advances in organizational justice (pp. 119–151). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Folger, R. (1987). Distributive and procedural justice in the workplace. Social Justice Research, 1, 143–159.Google Scholar
- Fombrun, C. J., & van Riel, C. B. M. (2004). Fame and fortune: How successful companies build winning positions. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini, & Co., Inc. (1999). Socrates: The corporate social ratings monitor. Cambridge, MA; Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini, & Co. Inc.Google Scholar
- Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., & Berry, L. L. (1988). SERVQUAL: A multiple-item scale for measuring consumer perceptions of service quality. Journal of Retailing, 64, 12–40.Google Scholar
- Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Pohle, G. & Hittner, J. (2008). Attaining sustainable growth through corporate social responsibility. IBM Global Business Services. Retrieved October 2008 from, http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/bus/pdf/qr-gbe03033-usen-csr.pdf.
- Rowley, T. J. (1997). Moving beyond dyadic ties: A network theory of stakeholder influences. Academy of Management Review, 22, 887–910.Google Scholar
- Sheldon, K. M., Ryan, R. M., Rawsthorne, L. J., & Ilardi, B. (1997). Trait self and true self: Cross-role variation in the big-five personality traits and its relations with psychological authenticity and subjective wellbeing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 1380–1393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1985). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (Eds.), Psychology of intergroup relations (2nd ed., pp. 7–24). Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
- Wenger, E. C., & Snyder, W. M. (2000). Communities of practice: The organizational frontier. Harvard Business Review, 78, 139–145.Google Scholar
- Zyglidopoulos, Z. C., Georgiadis, A. P., Carroll, C., & Siegel, D. (2009). The evolution of corporate social performance and the role of media visibility. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1514385.