An organization's success in recruiting, selecting, and retaining employees can be attributed, in part, to reactions to a firm's CSR activities. Today, organizations appear to be more frequently pursuing CSR initiatives that are related to social issues. Unlike CSR initiatives which are unrelated to social issues, those that are attached to social causes are more likely to be perceived as controversial. Consequently, how individuals view such actions can impact their perceptions of the firm and may lead to changes in individual behavior. Grounding this work in social identity theory, we explore the effect controversial CSR actions can have on HRM functions. The goal of this effort is to explore and delineate how this shift in CSR may alter the nature of the CSR-HRM relationship and to examine the potential implications for HRM practice. Future directions for research and HRM practice are discussed.
In today's competitive business environment, consumers, employees, and stakeholders look for companies to not only provide quality products and services but also be responsible corporate citizens (Fuentes-García, Núñez-Tabales, & Veroz-Herradón, 2008; Hess, Rogovsky, & Dunfee, 2002). Consequently, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become standard practice for modern organizations – a powerful statement of who they are and what they stand for. In the broadest of terms, CSR represents a company's moral obligation to both internal stakeholders and external audiences to be responsible in regard to the production of company products, how the company conducts business, and the organization's overall impact on society. CSR encompasses critical firm actions that generally advance some form of social good, beyond simply what is required by law. Often these actions are aimed at building goodwill within the community (Aguinis & Glavas, 2012). Firms who actively engage in CSR are often rewarded with strengthened brand images (Arendt & Brettel, 2010), enhanced reputations (Brammer & Pavelin, 2006), increased employee commitment (Brammer, Millington, & Rayton, 2007), and improved financial performance (Bučiūnienė & Kazlauskaitė, 2012; Lin, Yang, & Liou, 2009; Porter & Miles, 2013). Despite this useful conceptualization, the scope of what CSR entails, how it is defined, and the way it is enacted varies substantially between organizations depending on the philosophies, preferences, and personal values held by organizational leadership, employees, and shareholders (Dahlsrud, 2008; Fleming & Jones, 2012; Matten & Moon, 2008; Spence, 2007; Voegtlin & Greenwood, 2016). Traditionally, organizations were thought to pursue CSR as a way to satisfy internal stakeholders and improve performance (Bučiūnienė & Kazlauskaitė, 2012). Thus, corporate social initiatives often aligned with organizational values and stakeholder interests, as engaging in actions unrelated to such interests would not be considered beneficial and could negatively affect firm performance (Brammer & Pavelin, 2006; Hess et al., 2002).