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Like It or Not: When Corporate Social Responsibility Does Not Attract Potential Applicants

Eva Alexandra Jakob (), Holger Steinmetz (), Marius Claus Wehner (), Christina Engelhardt () and Rüdiger Kabst ()
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Eva Alexandra Jakob: University of Bayreuth
Holger Steinmetz: Leibniz Institute for Psychology
Marius Claus Wehner: Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
Christina Engelhardt: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Rüdiger Kabst: Paderborn University

Journal of Business Ethics, 2022, vol. 178, issue 1, No 8, 105-127

Abstract: Abstract Companies increasingly recognize the importance of communicating corporate social responsibility (CSR) including their engagement toward employees, the community, the environment and other stakeholder groups to attract applicants. The positive findings on the effect of CSR on applicants’ reactions are commonly based on the assumption that companies send a clear signal about their commitment to CSR. However, communication is always contextualized and has become more ambiguous through the increased availability of information online. External stakeholders including actual and potential applicants are confronted with inconsistencies between the way companies communicate CSR activities and their overall CSR performance. Drawing on signaling theory, this article raises the question of how the interaction between strong CSR communication and low CSR performance influences organizational attractiveness. We propose that low CSR performance dampens the effect of CSR communication on organizational attractiveness. Hence, the inconsistency between CSR communication and CSR performance decreases organizational attractiveness. To test our hypotheses, we scraped 67,189 posts published on corporate Facebook career pages by 58 Fortune 500 companies from the time they began their respective career page until June 2018. Surprisingly, our results show that a low CSR performance strengthens the effect of CSR communication on organizational attractiveness. Thus, inconsistencies between CSR communication and CSR performance seem to lead to positive evaluations among applicants.

Keywords: Corporate social responsibility; Potential applicants; Organizational attractiveness; Corporate social responsibility performance; Signaling theory; Inconsistency; Social media (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s10551-021-04960-8

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