Employees and the Environment: Promoting Eco-Friendly Behavior in the Workplace

blue-truck-recycle[We’re pleased to welcome Jennifer Tosti-Kharas of Babson College. Jennifer recently published an article in Organization & Environment with co-authors Eric Lamm and Tom E. Thomas entitled “Organization OR Environment? Disentangling Employees’ Rationales Behind Organizational Citizenship Behavior Toward the Environment.” From Jennifer:]

The origin of this paper came from bridging two different research projects. My co-authors, Tom Thomas and Eric Lamm of SFSU, published a theoretical paper regarding how individuals develop attitudes toward organizational sustainability. Meanwhile, Eric and I have performed research on what motivates employees to perform sustainable behaviors. We look at what we term organizational citizenship behaviors toward the environment ­ OCB-Es for short ­ which are voluntary actions at work that help conserve resources, things like recycling, printing double-sided, etc. This paper joined these two streams of inquiry to examine how the reasons why people think it is important to act sustainably at work relates to their performance of OCB-Es and we tested it empirically.

Most past research on this topic has used a measure of how important people think O&E_Mar_2012_vol26_no1_Cover_Final.inddsustainability is in general, meaning for broad ecological reasons, but never contextualized within a work organization. In the paper we distinguish between believing sustainability is important in and of itself, what we term an ³eco-centric rationale,² and believing it is important as a means to an end, specifically a business end, which we term an ³organization-centric rationale.² We also differentiate employees¹ own rationales about why it is important for their companies to operate sustainably from their perceptions about why their organizations believe it is important. Perhaps the most surprising finding when we surveyed 489 working adults across a wide range of organizations and occupations was that people were more likely to perform OCB-Es when they believed their organizations valued sustainability, regardless of their own personal beliefs about the importance of sustainability. These findings held for both eco-centric and organization-centric rationales. This to us was surprising, as lots of research would lead us to predict that personal values would trump perceived organizational values. Yet, we find the opposite, which suggests that perhaps people perform voluntary sustainability behaviors at work not just because they think it¹s important, but because their company believes it is important. It is worth noting that we included in our OCB-E measure not only simple, everyday tasks, but also ³higher-level² behaviors, like collaborating with other employees or making suggestions to supervisors to increase organizational sustainability.

These findings raise several interesting and timely implications for organizational leaders looking to increase employee sustainability behaviors. Since employee perceptions of organizational rationales for sustainability were so important in motivating OCB-Es, we advise communicating corporate values around sustainability and resource conservation as clearly as possible. By contrast, trying to screen employees for pro-environmental values seemed to be less important in a company that clearly communicated these values, since even employees who didn¹t buy in on their own behaved more sustainably when they believed their employers cared about the environment.

The abstract for the article:

Scholars and managers have raised the question of how to encourage employees to perform discretionary pro-environmental behaviors at work, termed organizational citizenship behaviors toward the environment (OCB-Es). This study examined how rationales for organizational sustainability relate to employees’ OCB-Es. We considered two rationales—eco-centric and organization-centric—and two sources—employees’ rationales and their perceptions of their employers’ rationales. Results from 489 working adults across a variety of organizations and occupations revealed that both eco-centric and organization-centric rationales at both individual and perceived organizational levels related to employees’ OCB-Es. Furthermore, we found interactive effects, such that employees’ perceptions of their organizations’ rationales were more important than their own rationales in determining OCB-Es. These findings contribute to a theoretical understanding of the complex and interrelated factors motivating employees to perform voluntary sustainability behaviors in organizations. In addition, our results are valuable for managers looking to increase employee sustainability behaviors.

You can read the article “Organization OR Environment? Disentangling Employees’ Rationales Behind Organizational Citizenship Behavior Toward the Environment” from Organization & Environment free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

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*Truck image attributed to MIKI Yoshihito (CC)

Environmental Proactivity: An Economic Booster for Firms?

[We’re pleased to welcome Jesús Valero-Gil of University of Zaragoza. Professor O&E_Mar_2012_vol26_no1_Cover_Final.inddValero-Gil co-authored an article with Pilar River-Torres, Concepcion Garces-Ayerbe, and Sabina Scarpellini of University of Zaragoza in the September 2015 issue of Organization & Environment entitled “Pro-Environmental Change and Short- to Mid-Term Economic Performance: The Mediating Effect of Organisational Design Change” .]

 The relationship between environmental proactivity and financial results in firms has been widely studied, and different conclusions have been obtained. Both from a theoretical and an empirical perspective, numerous authors have come to different and opposite results. This phenomenon inspired a new work in the topic. Given this lack of consensus, the idea that the relationship between environmental and financial performance is not as obvious as it might seem arises. The complexity of the relationship between pro-environmental measures and performance, suggesting that there are certain moderating and mediating variables in this relationship.

The abstract:

The aim of this study is to contribute empirically to the understanding of the economic effects of pro-environmental change in firms. First, we analyse whether pro-environmental changes performed in different sections of firms’ value chain (products, processes and supply and distribution channels) generate positive economic returns in the short- to mid-term. Second, we analyse whether measures implemented by firms to improve environmental performance (pro-environmental change) have been complemented with changes in organisational design, and whether these changes help increase short- to mid-term economic performance. Through an analysis of a sample of 303 firms, we have collected empirical evidence that confirms that pro-environmental change improves short- to mid-term business performance both directly and indirectly, through the mediating effect of improvements in organisational design that often go hand in hand with these processes.

You can read “Pro-Environmental Change and Short- to Mid-Term Economic Performance: The Mediating Effect of Organisational Design Change” from Organization & Environment free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research from Organization & Environment? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Read Organization and Environment’s Special Issue for Free!

challenges-1221258-mCan institutional theorists constitute a society to better the relationship between organizations and the natural environment? What is the current state of the research on carbon disclosure? How have researchers addressed the tensions inherent in corporate sustainability? These topics and more are explored in Organization and Environment‘s Special Issue entitled “Review of the Literature on Organizations and Natural Environment: From the Past to the Future.”

Stephanie Bertels and Frances Bowen collaborated on the introduction to the Special Issue:

In summer 2015, the Organizations and the Natural Environment Division of the Academy of Management will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its first formal oae coverconference program back in 1995. Over the past two decades, a vibrant and engaged scholarly community has generated thousands of empirical and conceptual studies on the complex relationships between organizations and their natural and social environments. Each individual study focuses on specific research questions crafted to meet the rigorous requirements of academic journals. However, too often our journal publishing and professional norms push us to focus on small, incremental contributions to knowledge. Anniversaries can remind us to pause, take stock, and build on the past to shape a new future. The Organization & Environment (O&E) editorial board decided to provide a venue for this anniversary celebration: a special issue where as a community of scholars we can reflect on where we have been, what we have learned, and what remains to be understood to both further our field and help society address pressing environmental challenges.

In this first review issue of O&E, we hoped to draw insight and inspiration from in-depth reviews of specific topics. Our call for articles invited authors to reflect on the state of theory, empirical research, and practice in relation to key questions at the interface of organizations and the natural environment. We sought out comprehensive and analytical reviews of recent research that synthesized, integrated, and extended our thinking. We encouraged authors to anchor their thoughts in detailed retrospection on past and current research, and to identify the key theoretical, empirical, methodological, or practical challenges of future O&E research. There was an enthusiastic response from the community of scholars and in the end, we have assembled a group of six articles. Each offers a stand-alone review of a particular phenomenon within the O&E domain. Together they showcase the wide range of scholarship addressing topics ranging from the macro to the micro foundations of our field.

You can read Organization and Environment‘s Special Issue for free for the next 30 days! Click here to access the Table of Contents. Want to know when all the latest research like this becomes available from Organization and Environment? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

The CSR Agenda: Part 4 of 5

On Tuesday, Forbes published a case study about a corporate social responsibility strategy that spelled the difference between life and death:

Around 2000, Xerox was in big trouble. According to Dr. Joseph Cahalan, Xerox’s Vice President of Communications and Social Responsibility, the company was literally “days” away from filing for bankruptcy. Still, employees didn’t defect en masse like rats from a sinking ship. On the contrary, they rallied around the Xerox banner, fighting tooth and nail to keep the company afloat as if the company was a local mom and pop shop, not a Fortune 500. Cahalan attributes this to the culture which attracted him to work for Xerox in the first place: “People stayed and made that fight to save the company, in large part because they feel that it’s a company worth saving.”

How did Xerox earn this kind of loyalty?

Click here to read the article in Forbes.

What corporate social responsibility strategies are playing out in your research or practice? In this fourth installment of our series on CSR, we present an assortment of articles that tackle the issues across the field. We also hope to hear from you: CSR-related papers are currently being sought by SAGE journals from the Journal of Marketing Education and  Organization & Environment to Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and Business & Society. You can view some of the latest Calls for Papers here.

Part Four: How are the current shifts in CSR strategy playing out?

Click here to read “A Social Connection Approach to Corporate Responsibility: The Case of the Fast-Food Industry and Obesity” by Judith Schrempf of University of Richmond, published on July 24, 2012 in Business & Society.

Click here to read “The Prospects and Limits of Eco-Consumerism: Shopping Our Way to Less Deforestation?” by Peter Dauvergne and Jane Lister, both of the University of British Columbia, published in the June 2010 issue of Organization & Environment.

Click here to read “Organization-Based Social Marketing: An Alternative Approach for Organizations Adopting Sustainable Business Practices” by Mary Franks Papakosmas of the University of Wollongong and Gary Noble and John Glynn, both of the Sydney Business School and Faculty of Commerce, published in the June 2012 issue of Social Marketing Quarterly.

Click here to read “Societal Development Through Human Resource Development: Contexts and Key Change Agents” by Namhee Kim of Walden University, published in the August 2012 issue of Advances in Developing Human Resources.

Click here to read “Does Environmental Certification Help the Economic Performance of Hotels? Evidence from the Spanish Hotel Industry” by María-del-Val Segarra-Oña and Ángel Peiró-Signes of the Universitat Politècnica de València, Rohit Verma of Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, and Luis Miret-Pastor of the Universitat Politècnica de València, published in the August 2012 issue of Cornell Hospitality Quarterly.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s series finale, in which we’ll close with thoughts on constructing a CSR agenda for the future.