Author(s), Title and Publication
Duthler, G., & Dhanesh, G. S. (2018). The role of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and internal CSR communication in predicting employee engagement: Perspectives from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Public Relations Review44(4), 453-462. doi: 10.1016/j.pubrev.2018.04.001.

The authors of the current study examined employee perceptions of their organizations’ CSR practices and internal CSR communication (one-way, two-way asymmetrical and two-way symmetrical models of communication) as two crucial organizational level variables that could foster employee engagement. The study, whose findings were based on 516 valid survey responses, was conducted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The enactment of CSR is context dependent, and based on the cultural, economic, and political contexts of the UAE, the practice of public relations and CSR is quite different from Western contexts. This rich, politically stable, and multicultural Arab country (with only around 10% of UAE nationals and 90% expatriates) is continuing to grow and develop its own public relations industry standards.

Findings of this study revealed that internal communication about CSR, especially two-way symmetrical communication, is positively associated with employee perceptions of CSR. One-way communication predicted positive perceptions of CSR, while two-way asymmetrical communication regressed negatively with perceptions of CSR. Since all three models predicted perceptions of CSR, we can draw the conclusion that internal communication of CSR predicts perceptions of CSR. Depending on strategic goals, organizations might choose to disseminate information about their CSR activities to employees, by methods such as announcing volunteering opportunities or sharing the results of a CSR initiative. At other times, organizations might seek employee feedback to improve their CSR programs from an organizational perspective. However, when engaging in such two-way asymmetrical response strategies, employees might feel let down. This possibility was corroborated by the authors’ findings that two-way asymmetrical CSR negatively predicts perceptions of CSR. Finally, this study offered support for the positive relationship between two-way symmetrical CSR communication and employee perceptions of CSR. The study also found that although all dimensions of CSR (perceptions of legal, economic, ethical, social, and sustainable CSR activities) predicted all dimensions of engagement (intellectual, social, and affective), the sustainability and social dimensions of CSR most strongly predicted social and affective engagement. Findings also revealed that two-way symmetrical CSR communication is positively associated with employee engagement while there were no significant relationships between the other two models of communication and engagement.

Implications for Practice
Organizations should (1) be aware of the specific dimensions of CSR that can affect social and affective engagement, and (2) establish connections between the functions that manage CSR efforts and managers in charge of internal communication, which are often separate in organizations in the UAE.

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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