To continue the exploration of CSR, a review of some research might help. In his research, Professor Thornton (2015) showed that owners and senior managers of small and medium manufacturing businesses made more or less CSR decisions based on: (a) their personal self-efficacy, a belief that they can make a difference in the world around them; (b) their conscientiousness, a personality trait involving being responsible to others and trying to “do the right thing”. The owners and managers’ degree of empathy and compassion affected how many of their decisions included CSR benefits.
We can assume that every organization tries to address economic and legal CSR to financially survive and provide return to stakeholders. But there may be differences in the degree to which owners and managers feel an obligation to abide by laws and ethical practices. Stress and threats to a person causes them to narrow their views and field of vision. They act with more and more self-interest when under stress. They might even ignore actions they know would be good for the community under the guise of survival. A lack of feeling an obligation to the government or “state” breeds this type of contingent morality and lack of CSR.
Professor Thornton, in his earlier research also reported that small business owners often want to do the right thing for their employees, customers, and society at large. “In particular, many organizations want to make a difference or create an impact on society. In dealing with employees and customers, these companies are practicing ethical CSR, trying to be fair and just in their dealings. In trying to make an impact on society, they are dealing with philanthropic/discretionary CSR.” (Thornton, 2015).
In another study, he found that “fostering self-efficacy and conscientiousness along with creating higher quality relationships in terms of shared vision, compassion and positive mood within organizations as opposed to a broad appeal to social conscience. The findings indicated significant positive direct relationships of efficacy and conscientiousness with economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary CSR. But they were mediated by the quality of relationships, in particular perceived shared vision and shared compassion.” That is, the quality of the relationships within the company mattered a great deal is whether or not the value of CSR becomes a common practice.
We can further conjecture that emotional contagion helps people in a company consider CSR in their personal behavior when they are talking to and watching others involved in CSR. They see it, consider it, and try it. But what starts the new behavior and attitudes of all four types of CSR?
Thinking big helps. Thinking about the larger purpose and ways in which an organization participates in a community. Considering the degrees of waste of goods, time and energy along the entire supply chain. Companies like McDonalds and Walmart saved hundreds of millions of dollars by making changes in their packing. One cannot walk along a European city street and not see many forms of recycling bins for citizens to use.
But consider how a company can help promote education by encouraging staff to continually seek more skills and development. The average age of the students on formal degree courses at my University is 44. They all come from a wide variety of cities and countries to study. We have classes once every 6-12 weeks and the rest of the interaction and work in on-line. They often tell me that if they have children at home, the children whether 6 years old or 18 witness their parents doing homework, taking classes and trying to improve themselves. Their own school experiences take on a greater and different meaning to them. The emotional contagion of learning and role modeling helps promote learning – one of many forms of CSR.
The HR professionals and department in an organization, whether company or government or non-profit, can take the lead to develop ideas for more CSR. You can hold challenge lunches for groups of 8-10 and pose the challenge to them to create more possible CSR activities. You can benchmark by talking to colleagues, studying the award winners in these categories at the annual BOUSSIAS HR Awards. We in HR can be the social conscious of our organizations and help promote better CSR practices, more financially profitable practices, and greater brand recognition.
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