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The Demotivating Effects of Communicating a Social-Political Stance: Field Experimental Evidence from an Online Labor Market Platform

Vanessa C. Burbano ()
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Vanessa C. Burbano: Columbia Business School, New York, New York 10027

Management Science, 2021, vol. 67, issue 2, 1004-1025

Abstract: Despite a recent surge in corporate activism, with firm leaders communicating about social-political issues unrelated to their core businesses, we know little about its strategic implications. This paper examines the effect of an employer communicating a stance about a social-political issue on employee motivation, using a two-phase, preregistered field experiment in an online labor market platform. Results demonstrate an asymmetric treatment effect of taking a stance depending on whether the employee agrees or disagrees with that stance. Namely, I observe a demotivating effect of taking a stance on a social-political issue with which employees disagree and no statistically significant motivating effect of taking a stance on a social-political issue with which employees agree. This study has important implications for the nascent scholarship on corporate activism, as well as the scholarship on strategic human capital management. This paper was accepted by Greta Hsu, organizations.

Keywords: CEO activism; corporate activism; social-political stance; employee motivation; field experiments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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