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

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.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    www.shell.com/home/content/environment_society.

  2. 2.

    This label rewards organizations for concrete actions in favour of saving energy, reducing waste and preserving the environment.

  3. 3.

    See Footnote 2.

  4. 4.

    Additionally we computed the rhô for convergent validity (average variance extracted) which reached 0.5 or more for each of our construct which further assert the good convergent validity of our different constructs (Fornell and Larcker 1981).

Abbreviations

CSR:

Corporate social responsibility

OI:

Organizational identification

PEP:

Perceived external prestige

SIT:

Social identity theory

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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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Correspondence to Kenneth De Roeck.

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De Roeck, K., Delobbe, N. Do Environmental CSR Initiatives Serve Organizations’ Legitimacy in the Oil Industry? Exploring Employees’ Reactions Through Organizational Identification Theory. J Bus Ethics 110, 397–412 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-012-1489-x

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Keywords

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