Effects of Corporate Social Responsibility on Salesperson Performance: An Investigation into the Intervening Mechanisms

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    The recurrent reports of broad-based ethical transgressions such as corporate scandals (e.g., Lehman Brothers), embezzlement, accounting frauds, insider trading, and dubious business practices have sparked a heated debate on the role of corporations in society. Calls from consumer pressure groups, trade associations, and government regulatory bodies all highlight the need for more attention to business ethics and corporate responsibility to our community at large. Consequently, over 90% of the Fortune 500 companies have explicitly exhibited CSR initiatives (Luo and Bhattacharya 2006).

    Although those ethical corporate leaders are keen on developing a corporate climate for CSR, frontline employees may not care about it. The realization of CSR not only requires a commitment from the management but also the heartfelt support of frontline employees. To ensure an effective implementation of CSR, it is necessary to understand how the social responsibility climate (SRC) and ethical leadership of the firm are received and internalized by its frontline employees and, in turn, how their performance will be impacted. Despite a large body of literature testifying the outcomes of CSR practices at firm level, the effects of CSR on employees at individual level remain a big knowledge void.

    This proposed project endeavors to fill this knowledge gap by understanding the effects of the SRC and ethical leadership on frontline salespeople, particularly on their work meaningfulness perceptions and performance. We seek to unveil the psychological mechanisms explaining how CSR enhances salesperson performance through their perceptions of work as a calling, their customer orientation, and their sense of work meaningfulness.

    This project also aims to contribute to the methods of CSR research by advancing the operationalization of the CSR construct. CSR, by nature, is a continuous practice over time rather than a one-shot deal. We therefore contest that the “static” CSR operationalization in conventional cross-sectional research in the extant literature is incapable of truly reflecting the nature and effects of CSR. Taking into consideration that the impacts of CSR are dynamic and unfold over time, we propose a three-wave multiple time-point design with a latent growth modeling approach (Ng, Feldman, and Lam 2010). We plan to recruit frontline salespersons and make use of their companies’ sales records to test our research model. In doing so, we hope to demonstrate that CSR is a source of opportunity for employee well-being, performance, and competitive advantage.
    Effective start/end date1/01/1430/06/16


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