Get Commitment Now for CSR Programs Later

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Organizations are more likely to show commitment to CSR programs when the monetary or physical obligation is far in the future.

Organizations are more likely to show commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs when the monetary or physical obligation is far in the future. This finding affects not only firms looking to gain organizational support for social causes but also nonprofits seeking corporate commitment for their initiatives.

Background

Individuals and organizations tend to be selfish when committing their resources both in the present and in the immediate future. Previous findings established a tension between short-term and long-term interests that affects an individual's wants and shoulds. The researchers use these findings to demonstrate how tensions between short-term and long-term interests interact under differing conditions, with a particular focus on time horizons.

Findings

  • The longer the time between commitment to social causes and action, the greater the degree of commitment.

  • Individuals and organizations commit less to social causes that clash with their own near-term wants and desires.

  • The findings hold true for CSR causes involving monetary donations, public policies, and self-improvement.

Implications for Managers

Managers looking to enhance their organization's social portfolio must identify causes with a wide time gap between commitment and action. This strategy can enable a manager to win greater buy-in for CSR proposals. Likewise, managers of nonprofits and similar organizations seeking corporate participation should plan for the longer-term by submitting their proposals early.

Implications for Researchers

The strong distinction between want choices and should choices can be extended to study global social and economic stability. For example, individual social behaviours can be scaled to global organization to help bridge gaps between developed nations and impoverished countries. Nations that are strapped for funds may be more likely to ensure commitment when approaching their richer counterparts with long-term project goals.

Methods

Four studies examined the commitment behaviours toward monetary donations, public policies, and self-improvement of such diverse groups as college students and subway commuters. Surveys examined participants ranging from college students to subway commuters. The raw preference data of the subjects was scaled on a non-zero point measure ranging from -4 to +4. The research built extensively on previous work such as Construal Level Theory.

Rogers, Todd & Bazerman, Max H. (2008) Future lock-in: Future implementation increases selection of `should' choices. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 106: 1-20.


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