Linking Corporate Social Responsibility & Work Engagement: An Empirical Evidence.

AuthorSoni, Deepali


An accumulative interest in psychology that emphasizes human strength, efficient functioning, and employees' well-being, has steered to the development of the concept of work-engagement (Lin, 2010, Chughtai & Buckley, 2008). Work engagement is an accomplished mental state at a workplace which is specified by vigor, dedication and absorption (Schaufeli et al., 2006). Vigor is the level of energy, dynamism and tenacity. The dedication concerns the psychological state and the emotional reflection of the meaningfulness, enthusiasm and inspiration. Absorption is to be fully engrossed in one's work.

Work engagement is seen as a discretionary effort on the part of management to embolden employees to fulfil organizational interests. Existing literature indicated that work engagement helps in predicting employee outcome, organizations' financial outcome and organizational success (Bates, 2004; Richman, 2006). Previous studies also pointed out that organizational outcomes such as organizational commitments, better performance, lesser intention to quit, lesser absenteeism, more enthusiasm and burnout reduction are positively influenced by work engagement (Yilmaz, Ali & Flouris, 2015; Clark & Loxton, 2012; Salmela-Aro, 2011), which places it as an important construct in organizational culture. On the contrary, disengagement leads to a lower level of commitment, loss of energy, distrust, lower level of performance and high-turnover (Fay & Luhrmann, 2004). Therefore, work-engagement is a major concern for business organizations and in particular for HR managers.

Owing to the current dynamic, competitive and complex business environment, organizations have now realized that to remain competitive, they need highly engaged employees. Hence, identifying those factors that increase the level of work engagement is vital to the survival and growth of the organization. In this regard, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is considered an essential contextual factor to influence the level of engagement at work. Literature revealed that employees' opinion about the organizational CSR practices influences employees' attitude and behavior (Perrini & Castaldo, 2008; Fukukawa et. al., 2007; Rupp et. al. 2006). Sirota Survey (2007) revealed, if satisfied with organizations' CSR commitments, employees hold a positive attitude towards their organization. It is also found that employees are inquisitive to know their social contribution through their work-role (Bhattacharya et al., 2008). They feel satisfied and motivated while contributing to society through their work (Tsourvakas & Yfantidou, 2018). Another important study led by Hewitt Associates (2010) revealed that CSR is one in all drivers of employee engagement. Therefore, it can be concluded that organizations which have implemented CSR practices have witnessed a higher engagement level among employees at a workplace.

The relevance of CSR and employee engagement is already recognized by academicians and practitioners (Ante Glavas, 2016; Esmaeelinezhad et. al, 2015; Pedro Ferreira et al., 2013; Albdour et. al, 2012). Many past studies explored these dimensions on developed countries and emphasized either external or internal dimensions of CSR but very few studies have come up with both the dimensions of CSR comprehensively. In this backdrop, the present study modifies the approach by conceptualizing and validating the relationship of both the dimensions of CSR (internal & external) with work engagement. The proposed model suggests a new perspective to look at CSR strategies to boost work engagement in the workplace.

Theoretical Background

Social responsibilities are considered to be employers' obligation to follow such policies, take decisions that are required for the welfare of the society (Bowen, 1953). It has been conceptualized and made operational in corporate configuration as corporate social responsibility or CSR. There are different perspectives to view CSR because scholars studied this concept in different disciplines (Aguinis & Glavas, 2012).

According to Davis (1973), CSR refers to the company's consideration of the economic, legal and technical requirements of society and their response to them, beyond the basic requirement of the organization. A company must take its decisions by considering its effects over society. It is crucial to benefit society not to gain only economic benefit. The present study adopts the work of Ligeti and Oravecz (2009), Aguilera et al. (2007), Smith (2007), Brammer et al. (2007), and European Commission (2001), who developed two main dimensions viz. external and internal. Internal dimensions of CSR encompass all the internal activities of the organization emphasizing the betterment of employees (Brammer et al., 2007). Stakeholder theory (Freeman, 1984) also states that employees' skills and commitments are the key resources which are contributing to an organization's long run success. From this point of view, employees are considered to be an important stakeholder group for any kind of organizations. Literature provides numerous CSR practices to meet employees' expectations and needs. Vives (2006) defined internal corporate responsibility as responsible behavior towards employees, both socially and environmentally. It is expressed in terms of their safety and health (Sutherland & Cooper, 1990; Ehnert, Harry & Zink (2014), training and development (Lee & Bruvold, 2003; Ehnert, Harry & Zink (2014), work-life balance (Wong & Ko, 2009; Ehnert, Harry & Zink (2014) and workplace inclusion or diversity (Ehnert, Harry & Zink, 2014). Work-life balance can be defined as the extent to which a person can fulfil his or her work and family commitments and other non-work responsibilities (Parkes & Langford, 2008). Training is an approach to develop employees' skills. Neal, Griffin and Hart (2000) defined health and safety as a self-report on compliance with safety regulations, procedures and involvement in activities to remain healthy at workplace within an organization and finally, workplace-inclusion is the ability to involve diverse workforce in the organization so that everyone has equal opportunities to contribute.

External CSR practices, on the other hand, are socially responsible actions of organizations that target society, suppliers, customers, business partners, NGOs and public authorities beyond their functional limits (Al-bdour et al., 2010). The CSR pyramid of Carroll (1979) signified the comprehensive dimensions of corporate social responsibility towards various stakeholders. To understand the external CSR practices in detail, the study considers Carroll's pyramid of CSR (Carroll, 2016). According to this, organization has philanthropic, legal, economic, and ethical responsibility towards external stakeholders. Philanthropic responsibility can be defined as adopting good corporate citizenship to improve the quality of life for the community. Ethical responsibility is to be ethical at work, whereas legal responsibilities can be defined as the obedience to rules and regulations and finally economic responsibility is to be a profitable business unit, which is the main objective of any organization. To understand the comprehensive effect of CSR dimensions we also consider environmental responsibility (Turker, 2009) which includes all the activities carried out by the organization in order to save the environment or reduce environmental damage by adopting various initiatives and replacing the traditional activities with environment friendly activities in the daily business activities.

Work Engagement

Recently, work engagement has become a significant topic of interest among scholars and practitioners. It is often used interchangeably with employee engagement in literature. This term was coined by the Gallup Group as a result of various empirical studies supported by interviews and surveys of worldwide managers and employees (Little & Little, 2006). However, the first academic definition is one from Kahn (1990) who defined the term engagement as the harnessing of the members' self, at the workplace physically, cognitively and emotionally during the job role. Based on this definition, Maslach et al. (2001), Saks (2006), Czarnowsky (2008) and...

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