Responsible or redundant? Engaging the workforce through corporate social responsibility

Victoria Smith*, Peter Langford

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Increasing attempts are being made to determine whether corporate social responsibility leads to commercial benefits. Research to date has demonstrated that corporate social responsibility is associated with attracting job-seekers and enhancing the engagement of employees. However, much of this research focuses on the impact of corporate social responsibility on employee outcomes independent of the impact of traditional human resource practices (e.g. training, rewards). Using a variation of an existing employee opinion survey, and applying Carroll's (1979) model of corporate social responsibility, this paper assesses the relationship between employee engagement, traditional human resource practices, and corporate social responsibility. Data collected from 3147 employees showed a significant positive correlation between corporate social responsibility and employee engagement. However, corporate social responsibility explained little additional variance in engagement beyond that explained by traditional human resource practices. This paper concludes that allocating attention and resources to corporate social responsibility may not be as advantageous as investing in the improvement of core human resource practices, when the goal is to improve employee engagement. Future research needs to examine why corporate social responsibility explains little additional variance in employee engagement, specifically examining the manner in which employees perceive corporate social responsibility and the extent to which corporate social responsibility encompasses traditional human resource practices.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)425-447
    Number of pages23
    JournalAustralian Journal of Management
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


    • business ethics
    • corporate performance
    • corporate social responsibility
    • employee engagement
    • human resources


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