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Signaling and Social Influence: The Impact of Corporate Volunteer Programs on Employee Work Behavior

Cao, Yinyin (2019) Signaling and Social Influence: The Impact of Corporate Volunteer Programs on Employee Work Behavior. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Corporate volunteer programs serve the social agenda of the organizations that deploy them, and are important channels for delivering care and compassion to important causes and communities in need. However, the uptake of these programs by employees is surprisingly low. Little is known about the affective reactions of those who do not avail themselves of the programs offered. In this dissertation, I draw from research on work-life benefits, as well as theories of signaling and social influence, to examine the effects of corporate volunteer programs on the affect and behavior of both the employees who take part in the initiatives, as well as those who do not. In a pilot study, I find initial support for the positive synergies of multiple role engagement – specifically, that time spent on non-work-related activities has a significant positive effect on individuals’ perceptions of work-life enrichment, and this in turn relates positively to their engagement and personal initiative at work. This pre-test of measures and theoretical relationships provided a stepping stone for my primary dissertation project: a longitudinal field study at a large organization in the Northeast to examine the effects of its corporate volunteer program. Through surveys at two points in time, I find that even when employee participation in volunteering is low, such programs may nevertheless have a significant influence on employees’ work-related perceptions and behavior, as driven primarily by processes of social sharing. Workplace conversations around volunteering led to enhanced perceptions of organizational support for enrichment, increased interpersonal citizenship behaviors at work, and stronger future volunteer intentions, regardless of whether or not employees personally took part in the volunteer activity. These positive effects are most prominent when employees are in positions that afford the flexibility to join in such initiatives. Understanding the effects of social influence and the factors that moderate the impact of these corporate programs on employee outcomes is important as firms seek to provide a more enriching environment for their workforce.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Cao, Yinyinyic71@pitt.eduyic71
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPil,
Committee MemberLebel,
Committee MemberYoung-Hyman,
Committee MemberLawson,
Date: 6 August 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 May 2019
Approval Date: 6 August 2019
Submission Date: 5 June 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 184
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Corporate volunteer programs, work-life enrichment, social sharing, employee perceptions
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2019 17:08
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2019 17:08

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