In this paper, we examine the relationship between Christian religiosity, attitudes towards corporate social responsibility (CSR), and CSR behavior of executives. We distinguish four types of CSR attitudes and five types of CSR behavior. Based on empirical research conducted among 473 Dutch executives, we find that CSR attitudes mediate the influence of religiosity on CSR behavior. Intrinsic religiosity positively affects the ethical CSR attitude and negatively affects the financial CSR attitude, whereas extrinsic religiosity stimulates the philanthropic CSR attitude. Financial, ethical, and philanthropic CSR attitudes significantly affect some types of CSR behaviors. However, because religiosity has opposing effects on the three attitudes, the joint mediation effect of the three attitudes is negligible. Furthermore, we find a direct negative influence of intrinsic religiosity on diversity and a direct positive influence on charity.
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It is important to make a distinction between spirituality and religiosity. Spirituality is concerned with qualities of the human spirit, including positive psychological concepts, such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, personal responsibility, and a sense of harmony with one’s environment (Fry et al. 2011). Religiosity is concerned with a system of beliefs, feelings and behaviours such as prayers, rites and ceremonies (Fry and Slocum 2008; Cornwall et al. 1986). Fry and Slocum (2008) state that translating religion into workplace spirituality can foster zealotry at the expense of organizational goals, offend constituents and customers, and decrease morale and employee well being.
In literature, the concept of corporate social performance (CSP) is often used for behavioral aspects of CSR in terms of the observed CSR policies, processes and outcomes of a company’s activities (Crane et al. 2008), whereas the definitions of CSR also depend on motivation, meaning that it is the intent of an activity that counts.
The main religion within the Netherlands, as well as in the world, is Christianity. This is reflected by our research sample consisting of 80% Christians, although the percentage of Protestants is relatively high [48%, while the other 32% Christians within the sample are either Roman Catholic (18%) or Evangelical (14%)]. This is due to the fact that two of the three employers’ organizations in our research have a Protestant identity, thereby attracting Protestant members. The percentage of non-religious executives in our research sample is relatively low (11% while this is 40% for the Netherlands). The Christian identity of the employers’ organizations has therefore led to a bias in the research sample. This was intentional, because these organizations were among the three largest non-sector specific employers’ organizations within the Netherlands, and because the subject of our research, the relationship between religiosity and CSR, is better served by analyzing a religious sample than a non-religious sample.
Zhao et al. (2010) emphasize the condition that the mediator variable has to be distinct from the dependent and independent variables. In our model, this requirement has been met as CSR attitude is clearly different from religiosity and CSR behavior as has been shown by the definition and operationalization of these variables.
For a macro that allows an easy application of bootstrap technique proposed by Preacher and Hayes (2008) in SPSS, see http://www.afhayes.com/spss-sas-and-mplus-macros-and-code.html.
Zhao et al (2010) distinguish competitive mediation from complementary mediation. In the latter case, the signs of the mediation paths (and the direct effect if applicable) are equal. In the first case, the mediation paths (and the direct effect) have different signs and then the total effect may be close to zero.
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The authors would like to thank the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the employers’ association VNO-NCW, and the Science Shop of Tilburg University for their financial support. The authors also thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments throughout the review process.
Appendix: Variables and Measures
Appendix: Variables and Measures
Religiosity (Independent Variable)
Cognitive Aspects of Religiosity
Who or what determines good and evil?
(Prevailing morality, autonomous man, God, other namely …)
Are human beings inclined to do good or evil?
(Only good, mainly good, both good and evil, mainly evil, only evil)
Is life of human beings predestined?
(Yes completely, mostly, partly, only for a small part, no not at all)
Is there a life after death?
(Yes, maybe, I don’t know, no)
Do your actions at work influence your eternal destiny?
(Yes, somewhat, only a little, no)
Intrinsic Religious Motivation
Please indicate: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree.
I enjoy reading about my religion.
It doesn’t matter what believe as long as I am good.
It is important to me to spent time in private thought and prayer.
I have often had a strong sense of God’s presence.
I try hard to live all my life according to my religious beliefs.
Although I am religious I don’t let it affect my daily life.
My whole approach to life is based on my religion.
Although I believe in my religion many other things are more important in life.
Extrinsic Religious Motivation
Please indicate: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, strongly agree.
I go to church because it helps me to make friends.
I pray mainly to gain relief and protection.
What religion offers me most is comfort in times of trouble and sorrow.
Prayer is for peace and happiness.
I go to church mostly to spend time with my friends.
I go to church mainly because I enjoy seeing people I know there.
Behavioral Aspects of Religiosity
Please indicate: never, seldom, once a month, 2 or 3 times a month, at least once a week.
How often do you visit the regular meetings of your religious community?
How often do you participate in meetings of your religious community besides the regular meetings?
Please indicate: never, seldom, weekly, daily, several times a day
How often do you pray?
How often do you pray for your work in particular?
How often do you meditate?
Attitudes to CSR
It is important to perform in a manner consistent with …
A. … expectations of maximizing earnings per share.
B. … expectations of government and the law.
C. … the philanthropic and charitable expectations of society.
D. … expectations of societal mores and ethical norms.
It is important to monitor new opportunities that can enhance the organization’s …
A. … moral and ethical image in society.
B. … compliance with local, state, and federal statutes.
C. … financial health.
D. … ability to solve social problems.
It is important that good corporate citizenship be defined as …
A. … doing what the law expects.
B. … providing voluntary assistance to charities and community.
C. …doing what is expected morally and ethically.
D. … being as profitable as possible.
It is important to be committed to …
A. … being as profitable as possible.
B. … voluntary and charitable activities.
C. … abiding by laws and regulations.
D. … moral and ethical behavior.
It is important to …
A. … assist voluntarily those projects that enhance a community’s quality of life.
B. … provide goods and services that at least meet minimal legal requirements.
C. … avoid compromising societal norms and ethics to achieve goals.
D. … allocate organizational resources as efficiently as possible.
How often do you personally contribute more than required by law within your organization with respect to each of the different items (never, almost never, sometimes, often, always).
Safety and health of employees.
Training and development of employees.
Preventing abuses on the work floor.
Showing respect to suppliers.
Showing respect to customers.
Showing respect to competitors.
Offering equal opportunities to women.
Offering equal opportunities to immigrants.
Reintegration of disabled persons outside the company.
Increasing employee awareness of environmental sustainability.
Reduction of waste and/or pollution within your own company.
Reduction of waste and/or pollution within the supply chain.
Support for social projects in your local environment.
Support for social projects in the third world.
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Cite this article
Mazereeuw-van der Duijn Schouten, C., Graafland, J. & Kaptein, M. Religiosity, CSR Attitudes, and CSR Behavior: An Empirical Study of Executives’ Religiosity and CSR. J Bus Ethics 123, 437–459 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-013-1847-3
- Corporate social responsibility