Dissecting the CSR-HRM nexus: A study of changes and challenges for HR professionals in socially responsible corporates
There is no shortage of normative models describing how Human Resource Management (HRM) should integrate with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and, in so doing, develop a multistakeholder orientation towards its policies and practices. However, empirical evidence about how HRM actually responds to CSR and whether integration with a CSR agenda transforms organisational approaches to HRM is lacking. This study addresses this gap using a systematic literature review approach in conjunction with a qualitative interpretive study to ascertain how human resource (HR) professionals engage with their organisation’s CSR agenda and how this engagement prompts changes to HRM philosophies, policies, and practices. First, this study conducted a systematic literature review (SLR) to establish how the relationship with CSR influences HRM’s scope, policies, and practices. Drawing on key SLR findings and stakeholder , paradox, and sensemaking theories, an exploratory study was then designed which examined the experiences and perspectives of HR managers engaged with a CSR agenda. Data were obtained from 34 in-depth interviews with 29 HR managers employed by New Zealand and Australian organisations, which had publicly stated CSR programmes in place. These participants were asked about their experiences of the CSR-HRM integration process, the influence CSR had on HRM in their organisations, and their views about who comprised key HRM stakeholders, and the nature and shape of policies and practices, that developed as a consequence of working alongside a CSR agenda. The data were analysed inductively in NVivo11 using the Gioia methodology. This study’s findings suggest that HR professionals engage with CSR differently, with their approach to engagement being contingent on the complex interplay that occurs between a host of organisation- and individual-level factors. These differing approaches to integration can be viewed as ranging from a disconnection state between the CSR and HRM functions to one which is strongly integrated. This later approach is evident when HR professionals consciously adapt their strategy, policies, and practices so that an alignment with the organisation’s CSR values and objectives is achieved. Analysis of those cases portraying integration revealed that engagement with CSR may support a widening of the HRM remit and facilitate the adoption of a stakeholder perspective with its associated pluralist ideology. Specifically, HR managers involved in CSR reported engagement with three stakeholder groups, recognised the plurality of their interests, and the requirement for HRM to address these interests even if they were divergent. This study makes several contributions. At a conceptual level it develops and applies an original approach using three theoretical frameworks (stakeholder theory, paradox theory, and sensemaking theory) and demonstrates the utility of this approach for understanding the nuances of CSR-HRM integration. It also contributes to the knowledge of CSR-HRM integration by broadening our understanding about the formation of the CSR-HRM nexus in organisational settings. It assists in identifying some of the salient factors contributing to its effective formation. The ways in which CSR-HRM integration impacts on HRM perspectives, policies, and practices is illuminated, with CSR widening HRM’s scope of impact and strengthening its role in both the organisation and at a societal level. These findings also serve to highlight some of the challenges and tensions that HRM faces as it endeavours to integrate with a CSR agenda. Some recommendations for approaches that can help to adapt to these challenges are presented. Of concern, this study finds that most HR managers’ attempts at integration appear to be unsystematic and ad hoc. The practical implications are addressed with the dispensing of some advice about how CSR-HRM integration might be best supported and promoted by organisations, educational bodies, and professional associations – with these ideas being developed from the SLR and interview data.
Advisor: Edgar, Fiona; McAndrew, Ian
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Management
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Human resource management; Corporate Social Responsibility; Statekholder theory; Qualitative; Sensemaking; Qualitative
Research Type: Thesis