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Employee happiness and corporate social responsibility: the role of organizational culture

Francisco Espasandín-Bustelo (University of Seville, Sevilla, Spain)
Juan Ganaza-Vargas (University of Seville, Sevilla, Spain)
Rosalia Diaz-Carrion (University of Seville, Sevilla, Spain)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 22 December 2020

Issue publication date: 2 April 2021




This research explores how does the organizational culture influence internal corporate social responsibility (CSR) actions and the effect of these actions on the level of happiness of employees.


The study adopts an employee perspective since the perception of employees is the unit of analysis. By relying on a sample of 921 workers of firms from different sectors and sizes headquartered in Spain, the empirical analysis is performed using partial least squares.


The findings evidence that clan and adhocracy cultures highly foster internal CSR practices and that internal CSR activities enhance employees' happiness. The mediating role of internal CSR in the relationship between organizational culture and employee happiness is also found. These results suggest that managers could play a proactive role in fostering internal CSR by designing the organizational culture according to features of clan and adhocracy cultures such as flexibility, innovation, creativity, autonomy, communication, training and support of supervisors.

Research limitations/implications

The research focuses on a single country, which makes it difficult to generalize the results and guides future research into cross-cultural analysis. Including countries that present differences in their cultural and institutional context would allow to explore the influence of the national context on the business culture, on internal CSR and on employee happiness. This work is also limited in time, as the data used are of a cross-cultural nature.

Practical implications

A greater effort in internal CSR by companies translates into a higher level of happiness for their workers. Specifically, occupational health and safety practices have the greatest influence on employee happiness. Hence, organizations must develop cultures that contribute to promote internal CSR—adhocracy and clan—since this would enhance employees' happiness if the values and beliefs that characterize these cultural configurations are translated into internal CSR practices such as occupational health and safety, work–life balance and equal opportunities.

Social implications

The improvement of employee happiness creates social value and can be enhanced through an organizational culture that promotes CSR. The research findings might be useful when defining institutional policies to promote job quality, as encouraged by the social policy agenda of the United Nations embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals.


Promoting internal CSR through organizational culture will have positive effects for companies internally by enhancing employees' happiness. Therefore, the article contributes to overcome the lack of evidence about the antecedents of internal CSR and its relationship with employees' happiness, an emerging variable in the management literature.



Espasandín-Bustelo, F., Ganaza-Vargas, J. and Diaz-Carrion, R. (2021), "Employee happiness and corporate social responsibility: the role of organizational culture", Employee Relations, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 609-629.



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