Poster Paper: Exploring and Defining the Private Sector's Role in Environmental Protection

Thursday, November 7, 2013
West End Ballroom A (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Halley Aelion, University of Maryland, College Park
Is the corporate approach to environmental stewardship corporate social responsibiilty (ESCSR) initiatives a green screen or green scene?  That is, are firms open to including employees in a range of ESCSR activities or is the corporate approach a top-down strategy that excludes junior internal stakeholders at decisionmaking and/or implementation stages? This study will answer this question through a two-part investigation of the role employees play in environmentally-conscious firms’ ESCSR investment and activities.  The first part of the investigation is a statistical study that aims to find firm-specific variables that make a specified universe of environmentally-conscious corporations [identified as firms that opted into the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX)] more likely to include employees’ preferences in corporate philanthropy initiatives through employee matching gift (EMG) programs.  The results of the statistical study offer high-level insight into the types of environmentally-conscious firms (such as those with greater gender diversity in leadership bodies) that look to incorporate internally-sourced, employee feedback into ESCSR investment decisions.  The statistical findings also help inform the second part of the investigation, which is a case study of three CCX firms hosting EMG programs.  The case studies, structured as interview-based research at the employee and leadership level of the three firms, aims to uncover the  extent, if any, to which each firm’s ESCSR approach is a deliberative, democratic, and inclusive process.  

By the conclusion of this study, the research will have extended organizational strategy literature, which has implications for both business theory and practice.  More specifically, the research advances organizational strategy literature by integrating two academic sub-fields.  In examining the role of employees in ESCSR activities, it furthers research attempting to understand why firms engage in CSR more generally.  To date, inquiries into corporate decisionmaking and behavior have focused primarily on financial incentives or third party influence.  The essay’s focus on ESCSR action also adds a new dimension to the study of employee impact relating to organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) that has been limited to traditional business operations.  Therefore, this essay provides new insights at the intersection of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and OCB on an issue of systemic importance: ESCSR behavior and outcomes.   Its findings additionally illuminate next steps in the field of ESCSR research by pointing out an absence of robust deliberation decisionmaking in corporate culture and identifying next steps in justifying the private sector’s move towards ‘thicker’ or more robust, deliberate decisionmaking protocol in matter related to ESCSR and CSR more generally.