4.1.2 Organizational Identity Theory

Organizational identity theory is a valuable framework for describing CSR results. It scrutinizes how businesses delineate themselves and the role of such identification in influencing their deeds and relations with different players, including personnel. Better managerial identification prompts staff to focus on the corporation’s best interests (Chaudhary, 2020, p.7). Concerning CSR, the organizational identity model offers valuable information on how companies incorporate their CSR undertakings into their decisive characteristics and processes (Gond et al., 2017, p.235). CSR includes an enterprise’s obligation to guarantee their involvement in virtuous practices, reinforcing their monetary growth and improving the workers’ quality of life and neighboring communities (Asante Boadi et al. 2020, p.1). The theory holds that CSR actions are vital to enterprises’ views of themselves and how they expect others to identify them. According to this framework, staff are more likely to identify with their firms if the latter is highly reputed (Zaman & Nadeem, 2019, p.709). The model argues that sincere firms about their commitment to CSR undertakings tends to influence the staff to trust them and remain loyal. Hence, the organizational identity model is essential in understanding the significance of CSR in businesses. By recognizing the link between CSR and company identity, corporations can launch honest CSR practices that influence others to view them positively.

4.2 Work-Related Attitudes and Behaviors of Employees

4.2.1 Organizational Identification

Organizational identification (OI) is one of the determining factors of employees’ relationship with the company and contribution to the firm’s success. It refers to the perception of being part of an organization, where employees define themselves as their member company (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p.18). OI encompasses evaluative and affective dimensions. Affective organizational identification is associated with the worker’s emotional attachment to the company. In contrast, evaluative OI relates to employees’ positive assessment of the firm’s corporate social responsibilities (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 19). CSR improves the connection between employees and their workplace, enhancing organizational identification.

Organizational staff identify with their firm based on how they perceive the latters’ engagement in CSR activities. Employees tend to identify with socially responsible firms, especially when they believe the organization has a positive image among its stakeholders (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 19). They become proud of being part of such a company, which increases their self-worth and self-esteem. Ali et al. (2020, p.3) posit that identification with socially reputed firms makes employees proud and builds their self-image. Company involvement in CSR activities is critical in boosting workers’ self-image, making them identify with the organization because they are delighted to be associated with such a firm (Ali et al., 2020, p.4). Hence, this implies strong identification with a company shapes employee engagement. Besides, these workers consider their existence in the organization meaningful (Chaudhary, 2020, p. 2; Ali et al., 2020, p.4). Accordingly, experiencing meaningfulness via work leads to positive results, including organizational identification (Aguinis & Glavas, 2017, p.1063). Internal CSR activities relate to affective organizational identification, whereas external ones strongly link with evaluative OI (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 19). Ethical and philanthropic CSR directly impact employee OI. Likewise, economic and philanthropic CSR increases the price and image of the organization to outsiders, leading to higher organizational identification (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 19). Hence, employees’ perception of their workplace influences how they identify with the organization.

Workforce views of the company, whether the latter engages in genuine CSR practices, shape how they identify with the firm. According to Aguinis and Glavas (2013, p.317), employees may pinpoint a lack of authenticity and congruence if a company projects a socially responsible, but a person’s job is not linked to social responsibility. As a result, this reduces their identification with the company. Firms that incorporate CSR in their operations are virtuous, and as such, employees whose self-concept aligns with a good person strongly identify with the socially reputed corporation (Aguinis & Glavas, 2013, p.318). When workers consider the CSR activities their organization engages in positively and align with their values, they develop feelings of pride, and their identification with the workplace increases (Al-Ghazali et al., 2021, p.8). In other words, when employees’ values correspond with those of their workplace, they tend to perceive themselves as a significant part of the firm, increasing OI (Chang et al., 2021, p.4). Employees assess their self-esteem and worth using the company’s status. Therefore, they prefer identifying with prestigious firms that enhance their self-worth or satisfy their self-enhancement need (Farooq et al., 2014, p.919). Higher OI motivates employees to behave or act in a manner that benefits the organization. OI is pivotal in predicting work-related results as it impacts workers’ attitudes and behaviors like job satisfaction, motivation, and how they perform and engage in citizenship behaviors (Chang et al., 2021, p.4). As OI increases, workers remain committed to indulging in work-related behaviors that improve organizational performance (Chaudhary, 2020, p. 4). Likewise, strong OI leads to extra efforts and cooperation since it enhances a sense of belongingness (Chaudhary, 2020, p. 5). Prioritizing internal CSR activities indicates that the company values its employees, which can heighten OI and positive behaviors (Deng et al., 2020, p.13). Thus, the kind of CSR activities the firm engages in shapes employees’ identification with the company.

4.2.2 Organizational Trust

Trust is the foundation of business because it allows partners to know each other and work together smoothly and employees to express themselves clearly. It is the readiness of one party to be affected by the other party’s action based on the expectations that the latter will take a specific action regardless of the ability to control or monitor the other party (Dhiman & Sharma, 2021, p. 225). Employees are confident that their company trusts them, and thus, they are motivated to be productive and increase their performance (Zhao et al., 2021, p. 3). Organizational trust is the idea of employees’ perception of the overall evaluation of the company’s trustworthiness (Kumari et al., 2021, p. 45). The employees believe that the corporation will never engage in any activity that will be detrimental to the welfare of the employees. Besides, knowing that the company will be worried about the consequences of its activities or operations on its employees will create trust. Organizational trust is about how workers see the international trustworthiness of a company. It gives enterprises a competitive edge, increasing their benefits or profits (Yan et al., 2022, p. 4; Kumari et al., 2021, p. 45). Workers must believe they will not be involved in a harmful activity, leading to a compelling performance. Therefore, organizational trust is related to innovation and performance (Kumari et al., 2021, p. 45; Yan et al., 2022, p. 4). The CSR initiatives create trust that the company will continue to treat the workers with care and benevolence in the future (George, Aboobaker & Edward, 2021, p. 5). By implementing organizational CSR practices, the company can earn the confidence of its employees.The companies must participate in CSR activities to regain and build the trust of all the stakeholders, including the employees. Vital CSR initiatives influence the employees’ outlook and thoughts toward the organization (Yan et al., 2022, p. 5). Workers who think they have mutual interests by being with the company trust the firm (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 13). Legal CSR practices are the ones that raise the level of trust in the organization (Kumari et al., 2021, p. 46). Companies count on CSR practices to construct trust among their workers. The practices favor working for responsible companies, which increases their trust in these businesses (Yan et al., 2022, p. 5). By paying attention to the needs of its stakeholders and doing the right thing, a company can foster trust. The workers’ attitude towards CSR activities influenced their organizational trust. The implementation of CSR practices boosts the personalities of the individuals of a firm, thus increasing their self-confidence and self-image (Dhiman & Sharma, 2021, p. 225). Employees are more likely to have trust in their workplaces if they think of them as socially responsible (George, Aboobaker & Edward, 2021, p. 5). More than that, the firms that handle their social issues ethically gain the trust of the stakeholders (Dhiman & Sharma, 2021, p. 225). CSR activity improves the trust between the firm and the employees through direct and indirect exchange. The employees give CSR to the employees, and the employees give CSR to the employees directly. The other way is that CSR activities intended for the external stakeholders instead of the workers attracted the indirect exchange (George, Aboobaker & Edward, 2021, p. 5). Regardless of the exchange, CSR activities are the key to boosting employees’ trust in the company, mainly if the latter benefits the employees and the community.

4.2.3 Person-Organization Fit

P-O fit is the basis of the relationship between organizations and their employees. Ashfaq & Hamid (2020, p. 20) describe it as the similarity between company norms and values and the employees’ values. It is viewed as a fit criterion between employees and firms (Hassan, Akram & Naz, 2012, p. 174). P-O fit is when one entity provides what the other requires and shares common traits or both (Abdalla et al., 2018, p. 4). Thus, compatibility means that the characteristics of an organization are similar to those of the individual employees. Similarly, compatibility is when a person’s traits fill some of the gaps in the company or vice versa (Abdalla et al., 2018, p. 4). The central concept of P-O fit is that “human behavior is a function of the interaction between individuals and the environments in which they are located” (Abdalla et al., 2018, p. 4). Some of the personal characteristics of the employees are their ideas, interests, principles, and dispositional traits, while the organization’s features include norms, doctrine, and traditions (Hassan, Akram & Naz, 2012, p. 174). The P–O fit model considers company values, norms, and situational factors, while individuals’ personalities and values are personal. In this way, a high P–O fit shows that the organizational norms and values are similar to the individuals’ values (Oo, Jung & Park, 2018, p. 5). A close match between employee-organization values is the key to their existence. P-O fit is related to several positive job-related attributes of the corporation and its staff (Ashfaq and Hamid, 2020, p. 20). The employees’ view of the P-O fit results from the company’s CSR activities; thus, the company’s CSR programs are of great importance in creating a good job fit perception among the workers (Jin, Li & Li, 2024, p. 4). Hence, this increases the work commitment. A corporation’s CSR activities can significantly affect the workers’ perception of the firm as similar or appropriate, and at the same time, it will enhance the sense of belonging (Jin, Li & Li, 2024, p. 4). The workers’ perceived P-O fit is of great concern when firms are involved in CSR practices (Jin, Li & Li, 2024, p. 5). On the contrary, a successful CSR activity produces good results, such as job satisfaction. Thus, when the management staff discovers CSR-related activities, they have high intentions and see themselves as the right fit for that company.

P–O fit is crucial in forming people’s behavior in an organization. Workers who think they are perfect for their workplaces usually strongly identify with them, which helps them to engage in extra-role behaviors (Oo, Jung & Park, 2018, p. 6). A high P–O fit makes workers think that anything that benefits the firms will also help them as they are strongly connected with the organization’s fit (Oo, Jung & Park, 2018, p. 6). Thus, this leads employees to display more citizenship behavior than their counterparts with a low P-O. A person-organization fit at a high level is the key to workforce retention because workers who are more attached to their firms feel part of the workplace environment. Therefore, they are less likely to change to another place. As stated by Duarte & Mouro (2022, p. 3), employees with the same values and characteristics as their organization are more committed to the company, happy with their working conditions, and less likely to leave the company. These workers not only demonstrate more prosocial behavior, which is one of the significant positive results. Besides, employees who feel that their values match the ones of their organizations are more likely to endorse the organization’s messages. For instance, the company’s participation in CSR activities sends the message that being responsible members of society is crucial. High P-O fit workers can get such messages and then support them by practicing them (Oo, Jung & Park, 2018, p. 6). A high person-organization fit implies that the company and the staff are on the same page regarding the issues. This relationship involves sharing critical insights and enhancing communication. Thus, the employees must perceive that their organization is open and share important information about different problems with them. Hence, this empowers them to make the right choices.

4.2.3 Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is a significant factor in organizational behavior. Job satisfaction is the state of a person being emotionally positive due to the evaluation of a person’s work or work experiences (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 22; Khaskheli et al., 2020, p. 4; Mascarenhas et al., 2020, p. 658; Low, Ong & Tan, 2017, p.27). Besides, it means the degree of the workers’ liking or dislike of their jobs, and it is related to the satisfaction and happiness that comes from work (Story & Castanheira, 2019, p. 3). It assesses the workers’ contentment with their services (Mascarenhas et al., 2020, p. 658). Job satisfaction is a broad term that includes work-related factors such as workload, career opportunities, social environment, compensation, working conditions, nature of work, and association with superiors (Mascarenhas et al., 2020, p. 660). Intrinsic job satisfaction is workers’ happiness with their jobs resulting from the tasks the organization gives them (Khaskheli et al., 2020, p. 5). Internal CSR activities enhance working conditions (Story & Castanheira, 2019, p. 3). On the contrary, extrinsic job satisfaction is the degree of satisfaction of a worker concerning the external factors of their job, which include pay, working environment, and colleagues (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 22; Khaskheli et al., 2020, p. 5). Intrinsic and extrinsic job satisfaction reveals the employees’ contentment with work, coworkers, rewards, and working conditions.

Various forces not directly related to their jobs, like CSR activities, influence employees’ job satisfaction. CSR activities directly impact employee satisfaction (Mascarenhas et al., 2020, p. 658; Story & Castanheira, 2019, p. 3). The rising employee satisfaction can be explained by an organization paying attention to socially responsible activities; hence, the company gets a good reputation among the workers(Khaskheli et al., 2020, p. 5). Research by Al-Ghazali et al. (2021, p. 1) showed that CSR perceptions positively influence career fulfillment. Job satisfaction is an essential factor influencing the relationship between the perceptions of external corporate social responsibility activities and performance. Besides, it allows the link between internal CSR activities and better performance (Khaskheli et al., 2020, p. 5). Mascarenhas et al. (2020, p. 653) showed that CSR is linked to work engagement and employee satisfaction. These scientists also say that workers like to work for socially responsible companies because these organizations allow the workers to develop themselves (Mascarenhas et al., 2020, p. 658). Likewise, Story and Castanheira (2019, p. 3) showed that workers are more satisfied with their jobs in CSR-committed corporations, while those working for companies that are not CSR-committed are less satisfied with the parts of their careers. Socially responsible companies largely contribute to employee job satisfaction, resulting in positive work behavior and better organizational outcomes (Khaskheli et al., 2020, p. 5). Therefore, managers’ actions, especially CSR activities, can improve employees’ work satisfaction.

4.2.3 Work Engagement

Work engagement is another significant activity related to CSR. It is a good, satisfying, work-related state of mind characterized by dedication, vigor, and absorption (Ashfaq & Hamid, 2020, p. 21). Vigor is the state of energy and mental strength when carrying out the duties assigned (Memon, Ghani & Khalid, 2020, p. 4). It also includes the willingness to work harder in one’s job and persistence when there are obstacles. Dedication is being enthusiastically involved in the work and feeling a sense of importance, pride, inspiration, and challenge (Memon, Ghani & Khalid, 2020, p. 4). The final part, absorption, is about being so involved in work that it is hard for an employee to detach from it (Gao, Zhang & Huo, 2017, p. 3). Hosseini et al. (2021, p. 3) define employee engagement as the dedication to work and the firm and the willingness to use your skills and capacities to benefit the organization and yourself. The commitment and the readiness for self-devotion are the main elements that exceed the expectations by working towards achieving the organizational goals and values (Hosseini et al., 2021, p. 3). Work engagement develops by using the staff in the organization to their roles and letting them express themselves cognitively, physically, and emotionally while doing their work (Opoku-Dakwa et al., 2018, 3). Thus, this is when the employees feel committed, involved, and empowered and then show such feelings in their work behavior (Lu et al., 2020, p. 2). These workers can concentrate on attaining the organizational objectives. They can be challenged during difficulties and are not ready to quit their work. Hence, the workers who are involved in their work are the ones who help the organization to grow, innovate, and perform better.

CSR activities are the main factors contributing to employee engagement and performance. On the other hand, these practices enhance a company’s external image and organizational identification, which results in higher work engagement (Ali et al., 2020, p. 4). Workers involved in the greater good can enhance their self-concept, which leads to greater affinity with the organization (Lu et al., 2020, p. 2). Internal CSR has a more substantial impact on work engagement than external CSR. These activities are related to the employees and society and greatly influence work engagement. Many factors control the connection between CSR activities and network engagement, such as organization trust, job satisfaction, employer brand, and work meaningfulness (Nejati & Shafaei, 2023, p. 2069). The factors that enhance the linkage between CSR and work engagement are the support from the management. The benefit of CSR, collectivism, and workers’ moral identity beliefs also strengthen the connection.

4.2.4 Turnover Intention

CSR is the key to reducing the turnover intentions of workers. Turnover intention is a mental process in which employees think of leaving, plan, and desire to quit their jobs (Low, Ong & Tan, 2017, p. 27). It also signifies the worker’s wish to leave the organization after being unsatisfied with the workplace and seeking better opportunities in other companies. Through CSR activities, turnover intentions can be significantly influenced. Perceived CSR reduces employee turnover by increasing workers’ pride and decreasing their tendency to quit their jobs (Ng, Yam & Aguinis, 2018, p. 13). Lee and Chen (2018, p. 1) also state that CSR can boost employees’ morale and decrease turnover. Through a good reputation, businesses can advertise their products, attract suitable workers, and reduce employee turnover and absenteeism (Atmeh, Shaban & Alsharairi, 2020, p. 3). Thus, CSR activities help organizations to manage high turnover rates properly.

4.2.5 (In-role) Job Performance/Task Performance

The in-role or job performance is a critical component of an organization since it helps to ascertain the company’s productivity. It is a behavior that aims at formal duties, tasks, and responsibilities, as stated in the job description (Story & Neves, 2014, p. 114). As Yassin and Beckmann (2024, p. 24) asserted, all CSR dimensions greatly influence job performance. Besides, workers think external CSR influences task performance through organizational identification mediation. Organizational commitment also bridges CSR perception and job performance (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 24). Nevertheless, some researchers disagreed, arguing that commitment did not affect such a relationship (Story & Castanheira, 2019, p. 1). The researchers have proved that work satisfaction partially mediates the link between external CSR and employee performance but completely mediates the relationship between internal CSR and staff performance (Story & Castanheira, 2019, p. 1). Other mediating factors are employee organizational citizenship behavior (He et al. 2019, p. 2582), job crafting (Hur et al. 2021, p. 1), employee engagement and wellbeing (Kim & Kim 2020, p. 4; Ali et al. 2020, p. 4). For instance, Hur et al. (2021, p. 4) discovered that job crafting entirely mediated the positive link between workers’ CSR perceptions and task performance. Besides, organizational support was the factor that could reduce the indirect impact of employees’ CSR views and work performance via job crafting (Hur et al. 2021, p. 5). Therefore, the moderators, like perceived organizational support, are critical in strengthening the association between CSR and task performance (Hur et al., 2021, p. 5). Similarly, Asante Boadi et al. (2019, p. 231) discovered that motivation influences in-role performance. Autonomously motivated workers usually have a more significant positive moderated effect on the connection between their CSR opinions and performance (Asante Boadi et al., 2019, p. 231). Besides, the kind of job also has a moderating effect of CSR on in-role performance (Yu et al. 2022, p. 577). Hence, the CSR activities of an organization have a significant influence on the employees’ job performance.

4.2.6 Organizational Citizenship Behavior/ Extra-role Performance

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is the discretionary behavior of an individual. In this sense, this means that the formal reward system does not recognize such behavior, but it is essential for the effective functioning of a company (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 25). OCB are the “employee behaviors that, although not important for the task or job, facilitate the organization’s functioning” (Zhang & Dong, 2022, p. 4). These behaviors can also affect others in the company or the whole organization. Consequently, OCB happens when an employee voluntarily does extra-role activities, which are not part of their work but help the company to achieve its goals (Khaskheli et al., 2020, p. 4). CSR is directly connected to OCB. The organization’s trust is the critical link between CSR perceptions and the employees’ organizational behavior. Based on Yassin and Beckmann (2024, p. 25), the workers’ first-party justice viewpoints are the main reason the connection between corporate social responsibility and OCB is weakened. On the contrary, the moral identity of the employees reinforces this relationship (Farmaki & Stergiou, 2020, p. 2557). The economic component of CSR is closely related to organizational citizenship behavior, which is different from the other dimensions. Moreover, philanthropic and ethical CSR effectively enhances the employees’ attitudes towards CSR practices, OCB, and job satisfaction. The Internal CSR looks into OCB when compared to the external CSR perceptions.

Green behavior is employees’ voluntary actions within the corporation that are not compulsory but are intended for the betterment of the environment. It is the act of voluntary behaviors that are good for the environment. Pro-environmental behaviors are saving energy, working sustainably, taking initiative, not causing harm, and influencing others (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 26). Whereas substantive corporate environmental responsibility positively impacts pro-environmental behaviors, symbolic company ecological duty has a negative impact. Pro-social citizenship behaviors are workers’ voluntary actions aimed at the community’s overall sound. Participation of employees in the choice-making concerning CSR activities increases their readiness to stress pro-social behaviors because the workers’ involvement in this process satisfies their psychological needs of relatedness and competence (Yassin & Beckmann, 2024, p. 27). Through their association with socially responsible organizations, employees become more engaged in CSR donation initiatives at the workplace, increasing their societal citizenship behaviors like volunteering and donations outside the organization (Yassin and Beckmann, 2024, p. 27). Employees who perceive their corporations as own can carry out the organizational functions independently (Zhang & Dong, 2022, p. 5). The external and internal CSR positively influences the results of society-oriented employees. At the same time, workers’ views on CSR are also why they intend to give money outside their work. On the other hand, symbolic CSR can lead to firms being rated as socially responsible corporations, which is not true (Glavas & Kelley, 2014, p.166). Besides, philanthropic and ethical CSR enhances the employees’ attitudes towards CSR activities, pro-social behavior, and job satisfaction.

5. Employee-Related Results in the Context of CSR Implementation Forms

5.1 Impact of Employees’ Perception of CSR on Their Attitudes and Behavior

How the workers view an organization’s CSR activities is critical in determining their behaviors and attitudes toward the company. Their opinions are the way they understand and evaluate the company’s commitment to CSR and the level of certainty that these activities are in line with their beliefs and values. Employees who consider their company socially irresponsible tend to have negative work attitudes and behavior (George, Aboobaker & Edward, 2021, p. 5). In contrast, employees perceiving their workplace as socially responsible to its internal and external stakeholders are more likely to develop positive attitudes towards the corporation (George, Aboobaker & Edward, 2021, p.5). They tend to record greater productivity and reduced absenteeism and turnover rates (Peterson, 2004, p.298). Job satisfaction is one of the employees’ attitudes associated with their viewpoints of CSR practices. The actions of the corporation influence employees’ satisfaction with their jobs, and this encompasses all undertakings, including those associated with CSR (Barakat et al., 2016, p.2327). Workers viewing their companies as genuinely focused on corporate social responsibilities tend to record high levels of job contentment (Khaskheli et al., 2020, p.5). If these workers believe that their employers actively engage and contribute to ecological or social causes, they may develop a sense of purpose and satisfaction (Al-Ghazali et al., 2021, p. 1). In addition, CSR practices that prioritize workers’ well-being, like professional development opportunities and diversity programs, increase the employees’ job satisfaction levels.

Moreover, workers’ CSR perceptions can significantly impact their commitment to the firm (Rupp & Mallory, 2015, p. 217). For instance, when these workers believe that their workplace is socially responsible and do not engage in activities that harm society and its stakeholders, they become more loyal and establish a strong emotional attachment to the company (Aguinis & Glavas, 2012, p.941). Based on this, they can identify with the organization’s goals and values, increasing their dedication to the corporation and minimizing turnover rates. As a result, this fosters a positive culture within the firm and strengthens employee retention efforts. The perceptions of workers concerning the organization’s CSR practices determine their involvement in the company (Gond et al., 2017, p.234). Employees who consider their employers socially responsible tend to be motivated to work and feel contented with their workplace (Mascarenhas et al., 2020, p. 658). Engaged employees are willing to perform extra activities and ensure that they are productive and perform as required (Chaudhary, 2020, p. 4). Some CSR activities, such as sustainability initiatives, allow employees to contribute to society, improving their engagement levels significantly. Employees’ viewpoints of an organization’s CSR practices can motivate them to prioritize pro-social behaviors in and outside the company (Rupp & Mallory, 2015, p. 217). For instance, when these workers are convinced that their employers positively impact the local society and the environment, they become more willing to showcase behaviors such as making ethical decisions and actively participating in community service activities. Thus, such behaviors benefit the employees and the organization as a whole.

5.2 Impact of CSR implementation forms (internal/external and symbolic/substantial) on CSR perception of employees

CSR implementation takes various forms, such as internal or external, and symbolic or substantial. How a corporation implements its CSR initiatives shape workers’ perception of their firms’ dedication to social responsibility. The different types of CSR implementation cause different reactions from the organizational staff and, thus, change their views about the company’s CSR efforts. Internal and external CSR activities considerably influence employees’ opinions of CSR. The internal CSR activities put the workers’ well-being first and, at the same time, they make the workplace better (Hameed et al., 2016, p. 2). The staff of corporations perceive them as genuine when the companies concentrate on internal CSR activities, which motivates them to stick to the organization’s policy and procedures (Sanusi & Johl, 2020, p. 3). Hence, this creates trust, loyalty, and commitment among the workers as they feel that their organization is there to support and value them.

On the other hand, external CSR activities are related to ecological and societal issues, such as philanthropic activities and environmental sustainability (Kim & Keane, 2023, p. 6; Hameed et al., 2016, p. 2). These activities are proof that the organization is doing everything to have a positive impact on society. When the workers see their organization being involved in significant outside CSR initiatives, they feel proud of being part of a socially responsible company (Rupp et al., 2018, p. 561). Thus, this boosts their sense of purpose and pride in finishing their tasks, how they feel about their workplace and how dedicated they are to the company.

Besides, the symbolic and substantial CSR initiatives affect the employees’ view of their firms’ involvement in socially responsible practices. Symbolic CSR activities focus on improving the image or reputation of a company and give little attention to the fundamental ecological or social impact (Donia et al., 2016, p. 106). While such action can help the company get positive publicity, it can also change the workers’ perception of the company, who may think the firm is not sincere about its commitment to social responsibility. The symbolic ecological approaches are proof of the corporation’s intention to seem as if it is committed without reflecting its commitment to the surroundings in real life (Michelon et al., 2015, p. 8). The main goal is to show the public that the company is really into environmental issues and to boost its reputation to get legitimacy and support, thus making it hard for the opposition to exist (Hyatt & Berente, 2017, p. 1214). On the other hand, overwhelming CSR activities reflect the challenges that society is facing and are the means to create the desired change. These practices have a significant impact on the environment and society in general. A company involved in significant CSR activities shows its employees that it is for them to make a change. Substantive strategies show genuine interest and proactive action for the natural environment, while symbolic strategies aim to improve or safeguard the company’s reputation but do not improve the environmental performance (Hyatt & Berente, 2017, p. 1213). Through the utilization of substantive strategies, companies concentrate on the natural surroundings, and, on the other hand, they work on developing practices that increase the ecological performance and the corporation’s capabilities (Hyatt & Berente, 2017, p. 1213). Therefore, this encourages the workers to be more confident and proud of their work, leading to a higher level of organizational commitment and identity. Because of this, the company should prioritize substantial CSR activities and limit the number of symbolic CSR activities that are only beneficial to the company for a short period but have adverse effects on the organization.

5.3 Substantial vs. symbolic (and internal vs. external) CSR perception and Impact on Employees’ Work-Related Attitudes and Behaviors

The participation of firms in internal and external activities and both symbolic and substantial CSR activities can significantly influence employees’ work-related attitudes and behaviors. For instance, when a company concentrates on external CSR activities and pays no regard to the internal activities, or when a corporation’s symbolic CSR activities exceed the essential practices, the possible outcomes are disengagement, lack of motivation, cynicism, and a decreased commitment to the organization.

Cynicism: Emphasizing external and symbolic CSR activities over internal and substantial ones may cause cynicism. The workers in the organization can turn cynical if they think or know that the company is not focusing on CSR practices. A cynical workforce can be insufficient for the company because of the skepticism and the lack of trust, leading to communication problems, teamwork problems, and lower morale and productivity (Shahzadi et al., 2024, p. 6). The problem worsens if these employees know that the company is really into public relations instead of genuinely interested in social responsibility. Thus, the employees may think the company cares about improving its image and reputation and neglect the internal issues affecting the critical stakeholders, such as the workers (Scheidler et al., 2018, p. 340). Through bitter discussions, workers damage an organization’s image and workplace atmosphere (Serrano Archimi et al., 2018, p. 907). The fact that CSR activities of the firm are perceived as insincere signals for public relations can result in the employees’ cynical attitude (Shahzadi et al., 2024, p. 7). Thus, they can be uninvolved in their job responsibilities due to their disconnection from the organization’s mission and values. Besides, cynicism causes change resistance, lowered organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and a lack of trust (Li et al., 2022, p. 1724). Thus, when the company’s CSR activities are more external and symbolic than internal and substantial, employees may doubt the company’s commitment to social responsibility. As a result, their engagement at work decreases. According to Chang et al. (2021, p. 3), the area of work engagement is significantly affected by the choices of the firms regarding CSR activities. Disengagement from work happens when these workers feel that their company is not interested in their efforts and only cares about the external images they get from CSR activities.

Reduced trust and commitment: By focusing on external and symbolic CSR activities, the company prioritizes them over the workers’ trust and dedication to the work and organization; thus, decreasing them is a definite outcome. Organizational commitment is one of employees’ changed behaviors after the company’s CSR activities (Chang et al., 2021, p. 3). When workers feel that the firm’s values do not match the company’s fundamental practices in corporate social responsibilities, they may lack the motivation to work and be more involved with the company. CSR actions that are carried out for the benefit of the external stakeholders make the company look good to the outside world, thus improving its external prestige, while those that are for the sake of the workers just like that enhance the internal respect of the company (Hameed et al., 2016, p. 2). When employees think that the company is more interested in meeting the demands of external stakeholders and looks more attractive to the general public rather than focusing on the internal well-being of the employees, their trust in the company leadership and commitment decreases significantly. In short, inconsistencies in CSR activities can erode the trust between the employees and the top manager of the company, especially if the latter thinks that the latter is not committed to the values (Scheidler et al., 2018, p. 340). In such situations, the employees can begin to doubt the leaders’ effectiveness and motives, eventually leading to a substantial drop in trust (Serrano Archimi et al., 2018, p. 908). Therefore, these employees might not be willing to go for the company’s success if such success is achieved by hypocrisy or lack of sincerity in its CSR activities.

Reduced morale and job dissatisfaction: The separation of priority of the CSR activities from the employees directly leads to a decrease in their morale and the contentment of their jobs. The employees’ attitudes towards CSR activities determine their commitment to the company, work performance, and satisfaction (Kim & Keane, 2023, p. 6). When companies focus more on the outside stakeholders and public opinion, they ignore employees’ efforts. Therefore, the employees’ impression of the true nature of the company’s CSR initiatives causes them to be less motivated to work or be productive. A company’s CSR activities can influence workers’ attitudes and behaviors (Chang et al., 2021, p. 3). If these workers are convinced that the company does not care about or ignores their contribution towards social responsibility or sustainability, they can suffer from low morale and job dissatisfaction.

Counterproductive behaviors. Employees who are unmotivated and do not trust their company will be unwilling to be productive and thus contribute to organizational success. The useless ideas about a business’ corporate responsibility bring harmful consequences. To name a few, the employees in such organizations acquire counterproductive behaviors (Shahzadi et al., 2024, p. 19). The harmful CSR activities may cause the personnel to show counterproductive work conduct, such as non-attendance, insignificant effort, and interruptions (Miao and Zhou, 2020, p. 4). People use these behaviors to resist the firms’ activities. The employees use aggression as a significant counterproductive behavior (Miao & Zhou, 2020, p. 4). Therefore, a company’s CSR deeds can cause a loss of interest in work duties, decreasing the worker’s productivity.

Organizational identification. The workers feel that how they perceive their firm’s participation in CSR actions determines their sense of belonging to the company. If the staff finds a misalignment between the CSR undertakings of the corporation and the business, their attachment to the business becomes hard. Miao and Zhou (2020, p. 5) said that OI includes the feeling of an individual being a group member. OI is influenced by the company’s choice to concentrate on symbolic and outside CSR activities (Chang et al., 2021, p.3). An example is that employees cannot relate to firms that engage in such actions. The organizational staff are the ones who recognize and appreciate the firms that prioritize social responsibility (Hameed et al., 2016, p. 4). By putting a higher value on the CSR deeds that are not within the company than the CSR deeds that are in the company, the firm thus encourages many employees to align themselves with them.

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