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Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 110, Issue 4, pp 397–412 | Cite as

Do Environmental CSR Initiatives Serve Organizations’ Legitimacy in the Oil Industry? Exploring Employees’ Reactions Through Organizational Identification Theory

  • Kenneth De RoeckEmail author
  • Nathalie Delobbe
Article

Abstract

Little is known about employees’ responses to their organizations’ initiatives in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Academics have already identified a few outcomes regarding CSR’s impact on employees’ attitudes and behaviours; however, studies explaining the underlying mechanisms that drive employees’ favourable responses to CSR remain largely unexplored. Based on organizational identification (OI) theory, this study surveyed 155 employees of a petrochemical organization to better elucidate why, how and under which circumstances employees might positively respond to organizations’ CSR initiatives in the controversial oil industry sector. Findings first support that perceived CSR (i.e. environmental CSR) positively relates to employees’ OI which is known as an important antecedent of employees’ outcomes (Riketta, J Vocat Behavior, 66(2):358, 2005). Furthermore, results highlighted that the relationship between perceived CSR and employees’ OI is mediated by organizational trust. Finally, this study also revealed that some contingency factors such as employees’ attributions of self-centred motives to their organization’s investment in environmental issues can moderate the relationship between perceived CSR and organizational trust. Based on these findings, it is argued that CSR initiatives can support organizations’ efforts to maintain a strong relationship with their employees, and gain their support even in a controversial industry sector.

Keywords

Corporate social responsibility Corporate social responsibility attributions Organizational identification Organizational trust Perceived external prestige 

Abbreviations

CSR

Corporate social responsibility

OI

Organizational identification

PEP

Perceived external prestige

SIT

Social identity theory

Notes

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Valérie Swaen and three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this article. Thanks to Bruno Carton and Barbara Dufrasne for research assistance in the data collection process of the study.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Louvain School of ManagementUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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