Author(s), Title and Publication

Chen, Z. F., Hong, C., & Occa, A. (2019). How different CSR dimensions impact organization-employee relationships, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 24(1), 63-78.  doi:10.1108/CCIJ-07-2018-0078


Although corporate social responsibility (CSR) has attracted growing attention among researchers and organizations, the impact of CSR on organizations’ internal climates and stakeholders such as their employees has been relatively understudied. To help fill this gap, the authors of the current study examined the effects of CSR and specifically, four different CSR dimensions (i.e., discretionary, ethical, legal, and economic) on organization-employee relationships. The economic responsibility is the basic building block and refers to a company’s ability to be profitable. The next level is businesses’ legal responsibility that refers to the expectations for a company to obey the law. The third level is businesses’ ethical responsibility that addresses the importance for a company to respect and adapt to the ethical norms and expectations from society. Finally, the discretionary/philanthropic responsibility refers to a company’s responses to the societal expectations of being a good citizen. The study also incorporated employees’ perceived CSR-culture fit (i.e., the extent to which people believe that CSR activities are congruent with the culture of the organization or corporation) as a potential moderator of these effects. To collect the data, an online survey was conducted with 303 participants from the United States who were full-time employees at for-profit organizations.

The study’s results supported that employees’ judgment of their companies’ CSR performance positively impacted organization-employee relationships. Such effects are amplified as employees’ perceived CSR-culture fit increases. These findings support the importance of CSR in internal relationship management. The results also demonstrated that different CSR dimensions would have varied effects on organization-employee relationships, and the moderating role of employees’ perceived CSR-culture fit was also found to be different for the four CSR dimensions. Findings showed that while discretionary and ethical CSR have significant influence on organization-employee relationships, the moderating effect of perceived CSR-culture fit was only found for ethical CSR. By contrast, legal and economic dimensions would only work in generating positive organization-employee relationships when perceived CSR-culture fit was high. The authors argue it is possible that a company’s legal and economic CSR performance are more likely to be perceived as self-serving as they are more closely related to business bottom line. When employees see a high fit between a firm’s CSR and culture, their skepticism toward the company’s CSR performance is more likely to be reduced.

Implications for Practice

Organizations should (1) not only recognize the importance of CSR, but also develop more specific strategies that touch on the different dimensions of CSR, (2) establish and reinforce ethical business conducts and ensure that all stakeholders, including employees, are treated fairly, and (3) ensure that the corporate culture being cultivated is aligned with their CSR efforts.

Location of Article

This article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)


Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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