Szerb, Anna. Charity Begins at Home: Corporate Social Actions, Pecuniary Rewards and Employee Outcomes. (Job maker paper)
This paper investigates whether corporate social actions (CSA) function as substitutes or complements to pecuniary rewards for employee motivational outcomes, which are measured by employees’ voluntary effort and public company ratings. While it is known that employee effort can be positively influenced either by informing employees about an employer’s CSA or by increasing employee pecuniary rewards, such as wages and bonus payments, it is unknown whether the positive motivational outcomes of CSA are dependent on the rewards received by employees for their work. Using mixed methods including quantitative text analysis of public employee reviews and a randomized, real-effort experiment with gig workers, I derive two main findings: first, all else equal, employees value CSA through increased efforts and improved ratings only when they are provided sufficient pecuniary rewards (“charity begins at home”). This finding is especially strong for employees with less inherent skepticism towards corporate claims regarding CSA. Second, when combined with higher rewards, the positive additional effect of CSA is also conditional on employees positively perceiving the employer’s internal social actions that impact employee welfare (beyond pecuniary rewards), such as diversity and inclusion. My findings contribute to literature at the intersection of corporate social responsibility and human capital management.
Szerb, Anna and Matthew Lee. Can Radical Transparency Improve the Credibility of Corporate Sustainability Efforts?
Prior research suggests that companies withhold information from their stakeholders that is potentially harmful to their reputation. We study the impact of “radical transparency,” or the voluntary disclosure of such information to a degree that exceeds established standards, by analyzing results of a field experiment that randomly assigns transparency conditions on an online labor platform. We find that certain personality traits of workers, such as charitability, impact-orientation and skepticism, significantly influence workers’ voluntary effort under different disclosure strategies including radical transparency alone, selective disclosures (CSR) alone and combined radical transparency with relevant CSR efforts. Workers’ perception of the employer in terms of credibility, transparency and accountability had a mediating effect between different disclosure strategies and workers’ voluntary effort. Our paper highlights the critical importance of stakeholder heterogeneity in how companies derive motivational benefits from different corporate sustainability disclosure strategies.