Research Suggests Corporate Social Responsibility Can Have Positive Impact on Employee Engagement and Behavior

November 4, 2021by Natalie Davis0

Summary of:

Van Dick, R., Crawshaw, J. R., Karpf, S., Schuh, S. C., & Zhang, X. (2020). Identity, importance, and their roles in how corporate social responsibility affects workplace attitudes and behavior. Journal of Business and Psychology, 35, 159-169. 

Background & Theory

This article explores how one’s perception of corporate social responsibility (CSR) may impact their organizational identification, and thus also their engagement and behavior in the workplace.

Research Questions

Van Dick et al., in “Identity, importance, and their roles in how corporate social responsibility affects workplace attitudes and behavior” (2020), seek to address the following questions:

    1. How does one’s view and relationship to CSR affect their identity as an employee?
    2. How does this further contribute to their workplace engagement and behavior?


The authors conducted this study with a total of 250 participants. There was a wide range of demographics among the participants due to the fact they participated through an online survey, which is laid out in detail in the study. The online study asked a series of questions based on a 7-point Likert scale, focusing on the following areas: employee perceptions of CSR, importance of CSR, organizational identification, work engagement, and organizational citizenship behavior. On top of these questions, participants’ demographics, basic work information, and personality were also provided. The data collected then underwent statistical analysis (models used included PROCESS and SPSS).


The results showed that one’s views of CSR and its importance does contribute to one’s organizational identity, either positively so when one has a strong value of CSR or negatively so when one does not have a strong value of CSR. Additionally, it was shown that there is a positive relationship between organizational identity and work engagement, and that organizational identification acted as a mediator between one’s value of CSR and one’s engagement at work (either that one valued CSR and had a positive relationship or one the contrary, did not value CSR and had a negative relationship). The exact same was found for the relationship between one’s value of CSR and one’s organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) where organizational identification was the mediator, either positively or negatively.

What This Means

  • CSR is definitely an important area that every organization should tend to, as it adds a lot of value to recruitment and retention, and generally contributes to better work behavior.
  • However, as noted in the study, there should be further research into why this can have such a negative effect for those who do not value CSR (and what may cause some to value it and others to not).
  • While the positive seems to outweigh the negative, organizations should pay attention to employees who appear disengaged, and see if there are other ways to mitigate this. Especially given that many organizations are moving toward greater CSR, both due to employee engagement and to contribute to making the world a better place.

Final Takeaway

For consultants: Look for ways to encourage greater CSR in an organization and as a value for leadership; it not only benefits the external beneficiaries, but the company itself and employees.

For everyone: Align yourself with an organization that values what you do – it will make for a better working relationship in the long run!

Natalie Davis

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