Purdue University Graduate School
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Exploring the foundations, implications, and discursive sense making of (employee-directed) corporate social responsibility (CSR)

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posted on 2019-08-15, 13:04 authored by Katharine E MillerKatharine E Miller

This study takes a mixed-method, micro-approach to understanding the internal sensemaking and understanding of employee-directed CSR given the potentially changing nature of such efforts. In particular, this study explores how organizational members (i.e., employees) construct knowledge (via their sensemaking) of organizational CSR and primarily those employee-focused.I take a communicative and discursive approach in viewing CSR as a socially constructed phenomenon (Schultz, Castello, & Morsing, 2013) and (social) movement within organizations (Georgallis, 2017), and thus contextual and unique to organizational sites. Findings revealed D/discourses of CSR from employee perceptions at the micro level and reflected in macro level document messaging. Through this, I found various paradoxes of CSR from the expectations versus reality of what it means for organizations to be “responsible.” At the individual level, employee sensemaking around CSR came to light—particularly in highlighting how these stakeholders rationalize, perceive, and identify with such efforts, especially those targeting or benefiting employees. In presenting a multi-method study, this dissertation contributes to research on the micro-foundations and limited internal perspective of CSR and provides important pragmatic implications given the timely and relevant nature of this work.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Communication

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Patrice M. Buzzanell

Additional Committee Member 2

Stacey Connaughton

Additional Committee Member 3

Josh Boyd

Additional Committee Member 4

Robyn Remke