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Organizational practices as drivers of societal change: contextual spillover effects of environmental management on employees’ public sphere pro-environmental behavior

Hans Jaich (Faculty of Economics and Management, Technical University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany and Department Strategy and Leadership, Hamburg School of Business Administration, Hamburg, Germany)
Sarah Margaretha Jastram (Departement of Strategy and Leadership, HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration, Hamburg, Germany)
Knut Blind (Faculty of Economics and Management, Technical University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany and Business Unit Innovation and Regulation, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, Karlsruhe, Germany)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 5 October 2022

Issue publication date: 26 January 2023

71

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Practical implications

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.

Social implications

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Citation

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

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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