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Best Practice - Internal corporate social responsibility perceptions of working students: What personal characteristics influence their judgments?

In order to achieve the UN SDG’s (2015) through increased corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities with organizations, employee support is crucial: employees with CSR awareness of sustainability and their subsequent extra-role work behavior are an asset to an organization. The purpose of our exploratory study was to develop an internal CSR (ICSR) framework to assess employees' CSR perceptions, based on Bustamante et al. (2020), Mory et al. (2015, 2016, 2017) and El Akremi et al. (2015). This integrative ICSR framework is focused on employee preferences in relation to the workplace, human resources management, organizational culture, and the organization's social and environmental responsibility management. The employee preferences serve as a maturity level for monitoring internal CSR and subsequent sustainable HRM practices in organizations.

10 personal values of Schwartz et al. (2012)
Table 1: 10 personal values of Schwartz et al. (2012)

In our study, we used a sample of 180 students, all working part-time from Germany and Ireland who have to deal with sustainability issues in their professional lives. Using an online survey from April to June 2022, we examined the extent to which personal characteristics of these young professionals, such as ten personal values (see table 1, Schwartz, 2014, Schwartz et al., 2012), and profession (operationalized by business vs. social sciences), impact their internal CSR perceptions (3 factors of ICSR, see table 2), since previous studies showed heterogenous effects of demographic characteristics such as occupation, gender and personal values on their CSR judgements (Rank & Palframan, 2021). Gender, work tenure and age served as control variables as typical gender effects might occur. The following hypotheses were formulated:

  • H 1a: Demographics – Caring vs. business orientation in profession (operationalized by study subject) significantly impacts the preferences of the internal CSR construct: Business administration is significantly related with employee and organizational dimensions of ICSR, whereas social sciences are significantly related to the dimension of social & environmental responsibility management.
  • H 1b: Demographics – Gender impacts all 3-factor ICSR dimensions as females significantly prefer those ICSR preferences.
  • H 2: 10 Schwartz’s personal values (see table 1) impact internal CSR preferences differently: Universalism and benevolence values significantly impact the social and environmental responsibility management & organizational ICSR, whereas the power orientation and achievement values are significantly related to employee dimension.


Research project lead:
Prof. Dr. Susanne Rank
School of Business,
University of Applied Sciences Mainz

March to August 2022

Research cooperation partner:
Jason Palframan
Technological University of the Shannon Midlands Midwest, Ireland

susanne.rank (at)