Translating Corporate Social Responsibility into Action: A Social Learning Perspective

Amanuel G. Tekleab, Paul M. Reagan, Boram Do, Ariel Levi, Cary Lichtman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Interest in the microfoundations of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has grown over the past decade. In this study, we draw on social learning theory to examine the effects of prosocial leaders on followers’ motivation to engage in CSR practices, and consequently on their CSR performance. Further drawing from social learning theory, we propose that followers’ trait compliance and leader-member exchange moderate the above relationships by affecting the conceptual mechanisms of social rewards and role-modeling motives. We tested our hypotheses with data from a sample of 138 employees (i.e., followers) who were responsible for implementing an organization-initiated CSR practice. Our results showed that among followers who were high in trait compliance, leaders’ prosocial motivation was positively associated with followers' CSR motivation. In addition, followers’ CSR motivation was positively related to their objective CSR performance when they had a high-quality relationship with their leaders. Our findings advance our understanding of the conditions under which leaders will be more versus less influential on followers’ motivation and engagement in CSR activities. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-756
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law


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