The nexus of corporate social responsibility (CSR), affective commitment and organisational citizenship behaviour in academia. A model of trust

Date06 January 2020
Published date06 January 2020
AuthorRashid Ahmad,Saima Ahmad,Talat Islam,Ahmad Kaleem
Subject MatterHr & organizational behaviour,Industrial/labour relations,Employment law
The nexus of corporate social
responsibility (CSR), affective
commitment and organisational
citizenship behaviour in academia
A model of trust
Rashid Ahmad
COMSATS Institute of Information Technology Lahore Campus, Lahore, Pakistan
Saima Ahmad
Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Talat Islam
Institute of Business Administration,
University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan, and
Ahmad Kaleem
School of Business and Law, Central Queensland University, Melbourne, Australia
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to advance knowledge on the implications of perceived corporate
social responsibility (CSR) on employee levels of commitment and citizenship behaviour (OCB) by
investigating a trust-based mediational process in the context of academia.
Design/methodology/approach The research data are collected from a sample of 736 academics through
a questionnaire based survey administered in different Pakistani universities. The nature of trust-based
mechanism underlying the relationships between CSR, affective commitment and OCB is determined through
structural equation modelling of the research data.
Findings The findings suggest that the perceived CSR is an important predictor of academicsattitudes
and behaviour in universities. Whilst the findings implicate the mediating role of trust in the process by
which perceived CSR influences academicscommitment, trust does not appear to mediate the perceived
CSRs relationship with OCB.
Research limitations/implications This study utilises single-sourced and cross-sectional data, which
may have resulted in common method bias.
Practical implications By furnishing evidence of the beneficial effects of perceived CSR on academics
levels of trust, commitment and citizenship behaviour, this study provides a business case for universities
involvement in CSR. The findings are particularly useful to academic administrators and managers who are
interested in nurturing positive attitudes and behaviours amongst academic staff.
Originality/value There is a paucity of research on CSR in the academic work settings of developing
countries. This is the first study to examine the trust-based microfoundation of CSR in the context of
academia in Pakistan.
Keywords Universities, Trust, Corporate social responsibility, Affective commitment,
Organizational citizenship behaviour
Paper type Research paper
Over the last two decades, a growing body of empirical research has established the
significance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a strategic business tool that
positively affects stakeholders through organisational actions that are beyond its financial
interest (Aguinis and Glavas, 2019; Turker, 2009). CSR has been described as the extent to
which businesses assume the economic, legal, ethical, and discretionary responsibilities
imposed on them by their stakeholders(Maignan and Ferrell, 2001, p. 38). CSR stakeholders
Employee Relations: The
International Journal
Vol. 42 No. 1, 2020
pp. 232-247
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/ER-04-2018-0105
Received 11 April 2018
Revised 9 January 2019
Accepted 19 July 2019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
can be internal (e.g. employees) or external (e.g. customers) to the core business of
organisation. The significance of CSR is evident from the findings of research that revealed
its many positive effects on a range of individual and organisational outcomes, including
consumer loyalty (Park et al., 2017), employee commitment (Brammer et al., 2007), job
performance (Newman et al., 2015) and job satisfaction (Aguinis and Glavas, 2012).
However, to date research on CSR has largely focused on its analysis at organisational or
macro level (Ng et al., 2019). There are several recent calls from the CSR scholars to conduct
research to further existing understanding of individual or micro level foundations of CSR
(see e.g. Gond et al., 2017; Hofman and Newman, 2014; Ng et al., 2019). In this regard,
Ng et al. (2019, p. 108) have argued as follows:
[T]here is a strong need to understand the microfoundations of CSR for theory development.
In brief, microfoundations are examined in research aiming at unpacking the black boxor
mediational processes in strategic management research by incorporating insights from
organizational behavior, human resource management, and applied psychology.
According to these researchers, examining employee perceptions of CSR is paramount to
understanding the microfoundations of CSR. Perceived CSR, defined as a reflection of
how employees view the summed CSR activities in which their organizations have
participated, reportedly predicts individualsaffective and behavioural reactions, which are
fundamental to understanding the microfoundations (Ng et al., 2019, p. 108). Likewise, both
Ko et al. (2018) and Turker (2009) demonstrated the significance of examining perceived CSR
because survival of organisations in the contemporary highly competitive business
environment requires strong commitment and pro-social behaviour of its employees.
However, a review conducted by Aguinis and Glavas (2012) showed that less than 5 per cent
of the CSR literature has focused on examining the phenomenon at micro or employee level
of analysis. In response to such limitations, the present study develops and tests a mediation
model to unpack the black box in the CSR research by incorporating trust as an underlying
process through which perceived CSR may affect employee affective and behavioural
outcomes. We focus on trust because Mostovicz et al. (2011) identified that stakeholders
trust in the organisational activities is a key indicator of its sustainability and success. This
paper reports the findings of our research conducted in the context of academia in Pakistan.
We choose this context because Voegtlin and Greenwood (2016, p. 182) have highlighted
that perceived CSR varies across organisational and national contexts and necessitated the
need to study it in novel contexts.
Moreover, extant CSR literature scarcely provides insights on the mechanisms that
explicate how perceived CSR influences affective and behavioural outcomes at individual
level, particularly in the contexts of both academia and developing countries. This is
somewhat surprising because 85.4 per cent of the worlds population resides in developing
countries (Othman and Ahmed, 2013), where organisations can make a real difference to
their countrys social and economic development through CSR. Similarly, universities play a
key role in sustainable social and economic development of a country by providing
education and knowledge on CSR (Nejati et al., 2011). However, the literature focused on
academic staff in universities portrays a grim picture of their job-related feelings. Martin
(2016) reports the situation as follows:
In discussions with colleagues from other institutions, virtually all speak of increasing frustration
with their university, whether that university is in my own country (the UK) or elsewhere in
Europe, or in North America or Australasia. (I am less familiar with the situation in Latin America,
Africa and Asia, although since preparing this paper I have received evidence to suggest the
pattern is common there, too).
This situation can be comprehended in terms of the institutional changes that transformed
the higher educational environment over the last decade in most countries. According to
A model of

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