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Responsible or redundant? Engaging the workforce through corporate social responsibility

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  • Victoria Smith
  • Peter Langford

Abstract

Increasing attempts are being made to determine whether corporate social responsibility leads to commercial benefits. Research to date has demonstrated that corporate social responsibility is associated with attracting job-seekers and enhancing the engagement of employees. However, much of this research focuses on the impact of corporate social responsibility on employee outcomes independent of the impact of traditional human resource practices (e.g. training, rewards). Using a variation of an existing employee opinion survey, and applying Carroll’s (1979) model of corporate social responsibility, this paper assesses the relationship between employee engagement, traditional human resource practices, and corporate social responsibility. Data collected from 3147 employees showed a significant positive correlation between corporate social responsibility and employee engagement. However, corporate social responsibility explained little additional variance in engagement beyond that explained by traditional human resource practices. This paper concludes that allocating attention and resources to corporate social responsibility may not be as advantageous as investing in the improvement of core human resource practices, when the goal is to improve employee engagement. Future research needs to examine why corporate social responsibility explains little additional variance in employee engagement, specifically examining the manner in which employees perceive corporate social responsibility and the extent to which corporate social responsibility encompasses traditional human resource practices.

Suggested Citation

  • Victoria Smith & Peter Langford, 2011. "Responsible or redundant? Engaging the workforce through corporate social responsibility," Australian Journal of Management, Australian School of Business, vol. 36(3), pages 425-447, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ausman:v:36:y:2011:i:3:p:425-447
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    References listed on IDEAS

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