This study aims to draw on goal contagion theory to examine how organizations shape the pro-environmental behavior of their employees. It extends the scope of analysis beyond organizational boundaries and illustrates the external effects of organizational practices that support societal change. The fundamental research question is whether perceived environmental management practices strengthen employees’ public sphere pro-environmental behavior.
To test the research hypothesis, the authors combined survey and quasi-experimental evidence from two independent field studies. Both studies were carried out in the tourist industry in Germany. In the first study, the authors used a cross-sectional research design with data from 206 employees to examine whether perceived environmental management practices are positively associated with employees’ public sphere pro-environmental behavior. For causal inference, the authors conducted a second study involving a natural pretest-posttest quasi-experiment with a treatment and control group.
The results of the cross-sectional study revealed that perceived environmental management practices are positively associated with employees’ public sphere pro-environmental behavior. The findings of the natural quasi-experiment confirmed the hypothesized causation and minimized the probability of alternative explanations.
The study has important implications for policymakers, since the support and acceptance of public policies is a prerequisite for the realization of collective political action. By highlighting the potential of organizational practices to strengthen employees’ public sphere pro-environmental behavior, this research illustrates how rules and regulations that oblige firms to intensify their environmental protection practices might not only reduce the ecological footprint of organizations but also help cultivate societal acceptance of and support for environmental protection.
This study illustrates how employees that align their normative goals in accordance with the implicit goals of organizational practices can become agents for corresponding societal changes. This perspective highlights the integration of structure and agency and underscores the idea that societal change works across macro-, meso- and micro-social levels.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the investigation is the first that examines the relationship between perceived environmental management practices and employees’ public sphere pro-environmental behavior. Herewith, it sheds light on a thus far overlooked mechanism for how organizations stimulate societal change.
Jaich, H., Jastram, S.M. and Blind, K. (2023), "Organizational practices as drivers of societal change: contextual spillover effects of environmental management on employees’ public sphere pro-environmental behavior", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 130-153. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAMPJ-11-2021-0478
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