Corporate volunteering: an analysis of the drivers, mediating mechanisms and outcomes

Alahakone, Ratnesvary (2015) Corporate volunteering: an analysis of the drivers, mediating mechanisms and outcomes. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Over the last decade, researchers have been increasingly interested in exploring the nature and potential benefits of an organisation's corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. CSR refers to "actions that appear to further some social good, beyond the interests of the firm and that which is required by law" (McWilliams and Siegel, 2001, p.117). The majority of research to date has focused on an organisational perspective and demonstrated that engaging in CSR activities results in positive organisational outcomes such as a reduced firm risk (McWilliams and Siegel 2001), increased attractiveness for investors (Aguilera, Rupp, Williams and Ganapathi 2007) and prospective employees (Bhattacharya et al. 2008) and reduced employee turnover (Galbreath 2009). More recently, researchers have turned their attention towards exploring how and organisation's employees respond to CSR activities. Corporate volunteering (CV) is emerging as an important tool through which organisations demonstrate their CSR. A focus on CV answers the call for an employee-centered understanding of CSR. This thesis explores the drivers and consequences of CV for employees and the employing organisation. This study integrates research on functional motivation and organisational support with CV to demonstrate that emploees' integral and external motives offer a perspective towards the CV initiatives in their organisations. This research also contributes to CV literature by examining the consequences of CV for the employee as well as the organisation. As CV involves volunteers who are also regular employees, the researcher expects that participating in CV will have an impact on how employees behave during their regular employment and also for the employing organisation, who in this case are the facilitators of the CV programme. Drawing on social exchange theory and intrinsic motivation theory, the study focuses on organisational outcomes of organisational commitment and work engagement and employee outcomes of job satisfaction and employee health and well-being as a result of CV participation. This study also examined the process through which CV activities influence the above mentioned outcomes. Inconsistencies in findings on research in CV have elicited calls for mediation mechanisms to be identified that will clarify relationships between CV and its outcomes. By focusing on social identity theory, this study suggests that pride and organisational identification (OI) mediates the relationship between employees' attitudes to CV and the consequences. Electronic questionnaires were distributed to employees in organisations that had corporate volunteering initiatives from Malaysia and Singapore. The final sample size after deleting for missing data incomplete questionnaires was 160 respondents. On average, participants were 38 years old with a SD on 9.1 years. 58.2 percent were female and 41.8 percent were male. Partial Least Squares (PLS) was used to analyse the data. The findings suggest that employees participate in CV for a variety of motives, the most significant of which is a desire to experience new learning experiences and to have the opportunity to use these knowledge, skills and abilities that they might not use in their regular jobs. Participating to express altruism, improving relationships with others, protecting the ego from negative features and enhancing positive strivings of the ego proved to be less important. Another important finding is that employees are driven by the support shown by their employers in terms of paid leave and time off. In terms of consequences, the findings suggest that all the dependent variables have a positive relationship with employees' attitudes towards corporate volunteering when mediated by both pride and organisational identification. By conceptualising and examining the relationships in this model, this study makes the following contributions. First, this research integrates several underpinning theories to develop a new theoretical framework that explains the drivers, consequences and mediators of CV. Second, by adopting Clary et al.'s (1998) functional theory and organisational support, this study contributes towards a perspective to explain individuals' attitudes towards their organisations' CV initiatives. It also contributes towards healthy debate on similarities and differences between general volunteering and CV. Third, this study integrates social exchange theory and intrinsic-extrinsic motivation to contribute to the literature on the outcomes of CV by incorporating organisational commitment, work engagement, job satisfaction and health and well-being in one model. Fourth, this study integrates social identity theory and intrinsic-extrinsic motivation theory to examine how pride and organisational identification mediate the processes through which CV activities influence employee outcomes of job satisfaction and health and well-being as well as employer outcomes of organisational commitment and work engagement.

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