Employees as information influencers of organization's CSR practices: The impacts of employee words on public perceptions of CSR

Yeunjae Lee, Weiting Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study investigates the impact of employees’ words about their organization's corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities on external publics’ attitudes and behaviors toward the organization. Specifically, it examines how the valence (positive vs. negative) of employees’ words regarding a CSR campaign interacts with the type of channel (face-to-face vs. social media) of employees’ communication behaviors, and how these factors affect external publics’ perceived authenticity of the organization's CSR, corporate attitudes, and purchasing intentions, respectively. An online experiment among 221 general consumers in the United States was conducted. The results demonstrated that negative messages regarding CSR distributed by employees in face-to-face communication decreased publics’ favorable attitudes and behavioral intentions to a greater extent than that distributed via social media (i.e., Facebook). However, the effect of communication channel became insignificant when positive messages regarding CSR were shared by employees. The results further showed that perceived authenticity mediated the effects of channel and message valence on publics’ attitudes and behavioral intentions. Theoretical and practical implications for CSR practices and employee communication are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101887
JournalPublic Relations Review
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • Authenticity
  • Consumer attitudes
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Employee communication behaviors
  • Purchase intentions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Marketing

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