Too Much of a Good Thing? On the Relationship Between CSR and Employee Work Addiction

Journal of Business Ethics 166 (2):311-329 (2020)
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Recent research highlights the positive effects of organizational CSR engagement on employee outcomes, such as job and life satisfaction, performance, and trust. We argue that the current debate fails to recognize the potential risks associated with CSR. In this study, we focus on the risk of work addiction. We hypothesize that CSR has per se a positive effect on employees and can be classified as a resource. However, we also suggest the existence of an array of unintended negative effects of CSR. Since CSR positively influences an employee’s organizational identification, as well as his or her perception of engaging in meaningful work, which in turn motivates them to work harder while neglecting other spheres of their lives such as private relationships or health, CSR indirectly increases work addiction. Accordingly, organizational identification and work meaningfulness both act as buffering variables in the relationship, thus suppressing the negative effect of CSR on work addiction, which weakens the positive role of CSR in the workplace. Drawing on a sample of 565 Swiss employees taken from the 2017 Swiss Public Value Atlas dataset, our results provide support for our rationale. Our results also provide evidence that the positive indirect effects of organizational CSR engagement on work addiction, via organizational identification and work meaningfulness, become even stronger when employees care for the welfare of the wider public. Implications for research and practice are discussed.



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