Corporate social responsibility and employee engagement: The moderating role of CSR-specific relative autonomy and individualism

Deborah E. Rupp (First Author), Tae-Yeol Kim (Participant Author), Thierry Nadisic (Participant Author), Ruodan Shao (Participant Author), Daniel P. Skarlicki (Participant Author), Elizabeth Layne Paddock (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal

93 Citations (Web of Science)


Growing evidence suggests that employees' perceptions of their employer's corporate social responsibility (CSR) relate positively to employee work engagement. This is an important connection given the impact of work engagement on both employee health and organizational productivity, as well as the importance of CSR for society. In this paper, however, we argue that the CSR perceptions-work engagement relationship cannot be assumed to be universal and that both individual and contextual factors will place meaningful boundary conditions on this effect. Integrating motivation and cross-cultural theories, we propose that the relationship between employees' CSR perceptions and their work engagement will be stronger among employees who perceive higher CSR-specific relative autonomy (i.e., employees' contextualized motivation for complying with, advocating for, and/or participating in CSR activities) and that this amplification effect will be stronger among employees who are higher on individualism (studied at the individual-level of analysis). These predictions were mostly supported among a sample of 673 working adults from five different regions (Canada, China [mainland], France, Hong Kong, and Singapore) and while controlling for first-party justice perceptions, moral identity, employee demographics, and employer/nation characteristics. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-579
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Corresponding author email

Project name

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

Project sponsor


Project No.

430-2016-00404; 410-2010-0221


  • autonomy
  • corporate social responsibility
  • individualism
  • organizational justice
  • self-determination
  • work engagement

Indexed by

  • ABDC-A*
  • Scopus
  • SSCI


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