Corporate Humanistic Responsibility: Social Performance Through Managerial Discretion of the HRM

Journal of Business Ethics 120 (3):313-334 (2014)
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The Corporate Social Performance (CSP) model (Wood, Acad Manag Rev 164:691–718, 1991) assesses a firm’s social responsibility at three levels of analysis—institutional, organizational and individual—and measures the resulting social outcomes. In this paper, we focus on the individual level of CSP, manifested in the managerial discretion of a firm’s principles, processes, and policies regarding social responsibilities. Specifically, we address the human resources management of employees as a way of promoting CSR values and producing socially minded outcomes. We show that applying the humanist philosophy to the managerial discretion of a business organization leads to the creation of an “autonomy supportive work environment”—as defined by the self-determination theory—which in turn, facilitates the internalization of social values, citizenship behaviors, and cooperation. The objective of promoting self-determination at work (i.e., the core of a humanist management) fits well with the ontology of social responsibility since autonomy and consideration of individuals as moral actors are central tenets. Furthermore, we show that applying humanistic management philosophy to the discretion of managers can lead to socially responsible outcomes. First, intra-organizational stakeholders (e.g., employees) are treated with respect and focus is put on their well-being, satisfaction, and self-actualization at work. Second, as employees’ need of self-determination is addressed by managers, it is likely that pro-social behaviors toward other stakeholders of the organization will be adopted, leading to socially responsible outcomes for extra-organizational stakeholders (Gagné, Motiv Emot 77:58–75, 2003). Thus, this paper ultimately posits that humanistic management applied to the HRM can be a solution for developing and maintaining socially responsible outcomes as determined at the individual level of the CSP model, through managerial discretion.



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