With the diversification and enrichment of communication technologies, network information, and knowledge dissemination media, available information has been made more transparent and the operation and management of many enterprises less mysterious. Information related to enterprise operations and management is, thus, open to public scrutiny [1
]. When an unexpected event occurs, does an enterprise stand with society against the negative influences of the event? The reaction of enterprises in these critical moments influence public impressions of them. Scandals and philanthropic acts of corporations have an even more profound influence on their image and consumer trust [2
]. Therefore, the emphasis of the public on the ethics and morals of enterprises has been sharpened, and the public is beginning to contemplate the roles played by enterprises. Enterprises depend on consumers to generate profits; however, the negative consequences of enterprise actions are frequently borne equally by these consumers, the environment, and the public [2
]. Is such an outcome fair and reasonable? Current events concern the survival of many industries, and they are critical to the sustainable development of enterprises. Therefore, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer merely a matter that society and the public follow with interest; it has become a manifestation of enterprises’ own positioning, as well as their responsibilities toward every level of society [1
]. Apart from profit generation, what other factors constitute critical factors in ensuring the sustainable development of enterprises? This is the question to be answered by enterprises in the 21st century. When proposing the future trends of enterprises, Drucker [6
] mentioned that “the current century is an age of social charity” and “the new management fad should emphasize the incorporation of integrity and trust into practice.” This indicates that the execution of social responsibility by enterprises has gradually become a crucial trend and critical factor in the development of enterprises.
CSR refers to voluntary promises made by an enterprise guided by sustainable development. Thus, other than their own financial and operational status, enterprises also need to consider the influence they have on society and the natural environment. Enterprises must also plan social activities that improve the quality of life of employees and their families, the local community, and society at large [7
]. With the growing attention of industries and academia on CSR, scholars have urged the transformation of “CSR concepts that emphasize the fulfilling of duties and responsibilities” into “CSR strategic thinking that emphasizes proactiveness.” Additionally, to gain an in-depth understanding of the influence of CSR on enterprises, the scope of examination should not be limited to financial indicators such as return on investment. The inclusion of nonfinancial indicators such as market share, brand positioning, corporate image, employee job satisfaction, and customer loyalty in the examination is necessary to gain an in-depth understanding of the influence of CSR on enterprises [8
]. Enterprises should therefore take the initiative to plan and implement social responsibility measures targeting different stakeholders, such as employees.
Employees are the most important asset in a company [11
]. With the entrenchment of economic globalization and the rapid development of science technologies, enterprises confront a highly competitive commercial environment. Many enterprises have realized that they must adjust and innovate constantly to cope with these changes, and organizational learning is a key means for employees to realize innovative behavior [11
]. Enterprises gain a long-lasting competitive edge over their competitors only through rapid development and commercialization of new products, and this is possible only with persistent innovative behavior [14
]. Additionally, enterprises are a type of organization that can be considered indispensable to the operation of society. Therefore, when carrying out economic activities, enterprises should also consider the influence of these activities on society and shoulder the corresponding social responsibility; accordingly, this is not only the demand of society on enterprises, but also a means for enterprises to lead by example. When employees are proud of the enterprise that they work for, they are more willing to contribute to the enterprise. Employees’ autonomous innovative behavior can be increased by enhancing their sense of identification with and commitment toward the enterprise [13
]. In recent years, the fulfillment of social responsibility by enterprises has been confirmed to enhance employees’ sense of identification with the enterprise they work for [10
]. However, whether the fulfillment of social responsibility by enterprises can lead to an increase in employee innovative behavior has yet to be confirmed. Therefore, the first motivation of the current study is to examine the relationship between CSR and employee innovative behavior.
Retaining talent and enhancing the senses of cohesiveness and identification with an enterprise have been long-standing problems in the realm of enterprise development. Retaining talent means the competitiveness of the enterprise is enhanced, leading in turn to the generation of better enterprise performance. Accordingly, many enterprises have started to pay attention to employee emotions and sense of well-being [20
]. Additionally, most modern enterprises have adopted the goal of creating a happy enterprise. Creating a win–win situation by combining the cultivation of well-being with social responsibility fulfillment is a component that modern enterprises are working on [22
]. For example, enterprises can invest resources into social charity activities or staff care and reexamine the core values of the enterprises. Subsequently, enterprises can generate employee perception of well-being and ultimately enhance job satisfaction [23
]. Subtle measures, such as encouraging employees to participate in enterprise social responsibility activities and paying attention to employees’ work-related feelings, can also enhance employees’ sense of cohesiveness and sense of identification with the enterprise [24
]. Some enterprises have even asserted they should treat employees in the same manner they treat customers; the same level of importance should be attached to both because both play a critical role in the performance of the enterprises [21
]. Most studies have focused on the influence of employee well-being and sense of identification on enterprise performance. However, they have not specified which aspect of enterprise performance the two variables affect. This study believes that employee willingness to contribute to the enterprise or even engage in innovative behavior is likely to increase with their sense of well-being and organizational identification. Furthermore, the critical factor in the generation of innovative behavior in employees is their sense of well-being. Therefore, the second motivation of the study is to examine how enterprises can make employees feel the significance of fulfilling social responsibility, which in turn generates a sense of well-being among employees and ultimately increases their innovative behavior.
Common method variance is another important factor influencing the research model. The variance is tested using Harman’s Single-Factor Test. An exploratory factor analysis through a principal components analysis has shown that the four factors selected explain 77.69% of the total variance; factor 1 explains 38.42% of the total variance, which is less than half of it. This proves that common method variance in this paper is well-controlled.
The Pearson’s correlation coefficients for the study variables are presented in Table 2
. All variables were significantly and positively correlated. Significant and positive relationships between CSR and all other variables were identified, and the directions of the relationships were consistent with the hypothesized directions. Additionally, all variables were significantly and positively correlated to employee innovative behavior; this result is consistent with results reported in relevant literature. To examine the mediating effects of other variables on employee well-being and organizational identification, the researchers employed the path analysis method of structural equation modeling (SEM).
The final structure equation modeling (SEM) analysis revealed the following results: χ2/DF = 1.58, RMSEA = 0.05 (i.e., <0.08), GFI = 0.99, AGFI = 0.97, NFI = 0.97, and CFI = 0.98; all these values are larger than 0.95. PGFI = 0.6245, which is larger than 0.5. These values indicated that this model had good fit indices, which indicated that a good fit existed between the corrected model and the study sample. Furthermore, the construct reliability (CR) results yielded values greater than 0.7, showing that the underlying variables all have good internal consistency. The values of the average variance extracted (AVE) results are all greater than 0.5, which demonstrate that the average ability of the measurement indicators to explain the underlying variables is good. Therefore, it can be seen that the underlying variables have good construct reliability and validity. The path coefficients of the model reasonably and effectively reflect cause-and-effect relationships between the latent variables, and thus they can be used in examining the proposed hypotheses. Refer to Figure 1
for the operation results.
As Figure 1
reveals, the standardized path coefficient between employee CSR perception and employee innovative behavior is 0.38, and the relationship is significant at the p
< 0.01 level; employee CSR perception exerts a significant and positive influence on employee innovative behavior. Therefore, H1 is assumed to be empirically supported. Furthermore, the standardized path coefficient between employee well-being and employee innovative behavior is 0.26; the relationship is significant at the p
< 0.01 level. This result indicates that employee well-being exerts a significant and positive influence on employee innovative behavior. The standardized path coefficient between employee organizational identification and employee innovative behavior is 0.31, and the relationship is significant at the p
< 0.01 level. This indicates that employee well-being exerts a significant and positive influence on the employee innovative behavior. The results also indicate that employee organizational identification exerts a significant and positive influence on employee innovative behavior.
Regarding the verification of H2 and H3, the researchers employed SEM to analyze the mediating effects of employee well-being and organizational identification. As described, CSR perception exerts a significant and positive influence on employee innovative behavior (the standardized path coefficient is 0.38 ***), and employee well-being also exerts a significant influence on employee innovative behavior (the standardized path coefficient is 0.26 **); this indicates that employee well-being exerts a significant partial mediating effect on the relationship between CSR perception and employee innovative behavior (the mediating effect is 0.29 **). Therefore, H2 is assumed to be empirically supported. Additionally, organizational identification also exerts a significant influence on employee innovative behavior (the standardized path coefficient is 0.31 **); this indicates that the employee’s sense of identification with the organization exerts a significant partial mediating effect on the relationship between CSR perception and employee innovative behavior (the mediating effect is 0.25 **). Therefore, H3 is assumed to be empirically supported.
This study examined whether employee perception of CSR affects their innovative behavior from the perspective of organizational learning and sharing. The roles of employee well-being and organizational identification as mediating variables were also examined. Empirical analysis of the data collected through questionnaires revealed that engagement in social responsibility by enterprises positively influence employee innovative behavior. Enterprises’ executing social responsibility is beneficial for promoting employee creativity through the process of internal interaction, and it could also help enterprises facilitate their technical research and development and, ultimately, assist them in realizing their goals of fostering innovative behavior. Employee participation in CSR activities increases the employees’ job satisfaction and improves their proactiveness in participating in the operation and management activities of enterprises. Ultimately, employee participation in CSR activities stimulates their ability to innovate and causes them to transform internal knowledge and apply this knowledge to other domains for the popularization, modification, and improvement of products and services. With regard to external stakeholders such as suppliers, consumers, and even government agencies, the fulfilling of social responsibility by the enterprise is beneficial for the establishment of external connections, which makes it easier for employees to obtain product- or service-related creative ideas from outside the enterprise, helping enhance the research and development of products and technologies.
Numerous studies have confirmed that when employees perceive that the enterprise they work in has fulfilled necessary CSR, they have a higher level of identification with and trust toward the enterprise. This leads to the generation of positive expectations and the enhancement of commitment to the enterprise. Our results indirectly indicate that the benefit of enterprise fulfillment of social responsibility is not limited to the establishment of explicit positive images—it also exerts a positive influence on employees’ sense of well-being. If an enterprise can realize the integration of CSR and daily management, this integration may have a positive effect on job satisfaction. The results of the current study also indicate that enterprises’ execution of social responsibility indirectly increase employee identification with the organization and also their sense of well-being. When enterprises engage in socially responsible activities, with conscience and responsibility fulfillment as the original intentions, they encourage their employees to participate in these efforts. As for employees, they discover the positive aspects of CSR activities in the process of participation; this leads to the generation of positive emotions and affection for enterprises and ultimately enhancement of employees’ work well-being and identification with the organization. Under these ideal conditions, the influence of employee perception of enterprise execution of CSR on employee well-being and organizational identification are significant. Finally, the results suggest that when employees are able to perceive the original intention and motive of the enterprises conducting social responsibility activities, it is easier for them to identify with the organization as well as generate a sense of occupational well-being.
5.1. Theoretical Implications
There is a positive relationship between CSR and employees’ good working behavior, especially in innovative behavior. It is recognized by consumers because the company abides by social responsibility, or employees increase their recognition of the company due to CSR, thus increasing employee performance and reducing management cost. The likelihood of employees contributing to the enterprise increases with their sense of work well-being and sense of identification with the enterprise they work in. These contributions are reflected not only in the financial performance of the enterprise, but also in their altered behavior or in the overall organizational climate. Thus, another finding of the study is that in fulfilling their social responsibility, enterprises can also indirectly enhance the sense of well-being and organizational identification of their employees, which in turns facilitates the generation of employee innovative behavior. This also indicates that both internal factors (associated with employees themselves) and external factors play an active role in facilitating the formation of innovative behavior in employees. The study has also confirmed that sense of work well-being and organizational identification are the critical intermediary mechanism in the transformation of employee innovative behavior. Thus, when an enterprise engages in practical activities not related to financial performance but related instead to society’s interests, this would lead employees to believe that the enterprise is good. This would then cause them to generate a sense of well-being and pride associated with working with the enterprise. This would subsequently lead to an enhanced sense of identification with the enterprise and ultimately lead to the generation of employee innovative behavior that benefit the enterprise.
When examining the influence of CSR perception of eastern enterprise employees on sustained innovation performance, the researchers adopted an affective events theory as the study framework in an attempt to clarify the mediating effects of employee well-being and organizational identification. The researchers adopted the integrated theoretical perspective (as suggested by relevant literature [44
]) in analyzing the relationship between employee CSR perception and innovative behavior; this perspective demonstrated unique theoretical value in clarifying the relationship between the two variables. Additionally, the current research also addressed the gap in theoretical understanding of the relationship between employee CSR perception and innovative performance in the eastern cultural context, a problem identified by one report [45
]. In short, the findings of the current study provide a new theoretical basis for in-depth understanding of the relationship of CSR perception to innovation performance among enterprise workers in an eastern social context.
The study has further clarified the critical intermediary mechanism involved in the transformation of Taiwanese enterprise workers’ sense of work well-being and organizational identification into innovative performance. Employees can possess the positive mentality that they have competency and value in contributing to the enterprise, and this can cause employees to generate innovative behavior beneficial for their organizations. This conclusion provides not only further theoretical support regarding the role played by self-concept in the formation process of individual innovative performance (in response to a research suggestion) [46
], but also enriches and optimizes theoretical understanding of the origin and influence of employee organizational identification. At the same time, based on the perspective of group-based self-representation in indigenous psychology, the researchers also explained the predictive validity of inferences associated with Chinese transformations of the sense of well-being into behavior that benefits the group they are a member of [42
]. The expansion from social psychology to organizational behavior injects new elements to the construction of employee innovation management theories that are suitable for the local context.
5.2. Practical Implications
The fulfilling of CSR has become a trend; the governments of many countries have made clear requests that enterprises disclose CSR-related information in their annual reports. Accordingly, an increasing number of enterprises are beginning to brief relevant stakeholders (e.g., employees, consumers, and even suppliers) on their policies, courses of action, and implementation results in three major dimensions, namely “economic,” “environment”, and “society”, through the publication of CSR reports. The CSR perception, employee well-being, organizational identification, and employee innovative behavior evaluation indicators applied by this study could serve as tools for enterprises gauging the psychological status and behavior of their employees when conducting CSR activities. In fact, in terms of enterprise operations, CSR activities should not be regarded merely as “value-adding” projects for improving the financial performance of enterprises. When implementing CSR activities, enterprises should also pay attention to the needs of stakeholders and engage in communication and feedback with them. Among different stakeholders, one of the most essential is employees. This is because employee perception of their job and their level of identification with the enterprise are directly reflected in their work performance, which in turn influences the enterprise’s operational performance or overall work climate. Therefore, enterprises should monitor employees’ status to grasp and utilize the knowledge and abilities of employees effectively. Moreover, enterprises can enhance employee understanding of their CSR strategies and contributions through a variety of methods, such as the publication of CSR reports, the incorporation of relevant information into education and training materials for new employees, the publication of relevant information on the official website of the enterprise, and raising awareness through regular publication of electronic bulletins. In addition, employees’ participation in the CSR implementation of the company will also increase their sense of identity with the organization. Because actually participating in corporate activities will deepen their understanding of the company, and then allow them to feel the pride of being a part of the company. Therefore, it is recommended that the human resources department of the enterprise use employee participation in corporate activities as a strategy to increase the employee’s sense of identity and affective commitment.
Furthermore, enterprises should deepen employees’ understanding of the connotations and effects of work well-being concepts (e.g., emotional well-being, perceived well-being, occupational well-being, and social well-being), regularly collect and evaluate information related to employees’ sense of work well-being, and adopt the following measures to facilitate improvement of sense of work well-being among employees: First, to enhance employees’ sense of emotional well-being, enterprises should attempt to create a warm and delightful work environment because this would facilitate the formation and maintenance of an active and optimistic attitude among employees. Enterprises should also provide employees with counseling options to help alleviate negative emotions that they experience at work; this helps reduce the influence of these negative emotions on employees’ sense of well-being. Second, to cultivate the sense of perceived well-being in employees, enterprises can tailor-make job-relevant cognitive skill and concentration training sessions for employees. This would lead to improved employee cognitive performance at work. Third, to enhance the sense of occupational well-being in employees, enterprises should tailor-make individualized career life plans for employees to satisfy their career development needs. Additionally, to enhance employees’ sense of job competence, enterprises could provide employees with education and training opportunities that strengthen their occupational competency. Enterprises must also provide positive feedback regarding the job performance of employees to facilitate the formation of the sense of occupational recognition. Fourth, to improve the sense of social well-being among employees, enterprises should create a united, harmonious, and sincere organizational climate in which enterprise members help each other out. Such a climate helps employees form friendly and close-knitted partnerships with the organization and members of the organization. If these four categories of measures can be implemented simultaneously, they would exert a significant combined effect on improving employees’ sense of well-being, and this would set the foundation for increased innovative performance of employees.
Employee experience of participating in CSR activities conducted by their companies is supposed to be a key variable in the current study. Based on common sense, employees who have the experience of participating in CSR activities should have a significantly higher level of CSR perception compared with those who do not possess such experience. Restated, when employees have actually participated in or formed connections with the CSR activities of companies, their perception of the fulfilling of CSR by their company would be enhanced, and this would in turn influence the psychological condition of employees. Therefore, the researchers propose that employee experience of participating in CSR activities be incorporated into future studies as one variable to be examined. Additionally, the stakeholders of enterprises include several main categories, including society, consumers, and employees. Therefore, enterprises should focus not only on their profit-generating capability (in financial aspects), but also on whether they have the ability to cope with external and internal changes, sustain errors and risks, and grow continuously in the future. Only through the implementation of CSR strategies and planning are enterprises able to generate competitiveness and move toward becoming sustainable organizations. Accordingly, future researchers can also adopt a diverse approach to the measurement of CSR; more valuable and constructive findings can perhaps be obtained if CSR issues were examined from the perspective of governments, consumers, and employees.
The conclusions of the study possess a certain degree of significance in advancing understanding of employee perception of social responsibility fulfillment by enterprises and the development of employee innovative behavior. (1) CSR can facilitate organizational learning. Therefore, enterprises should not regard the fulfilling of social responsibility as an undue burden. On the contrary, enterprises should incorporate social responsibility as a component of enterprise development strategy and make it an essential means for them to enhance organizational cohesiveness and enterprise competitiveness. (2) Employee well-being and organizational identification both play a mediating role between CSR and employee innovative behavior. This explains the extent to which employee well-being and organizational identification affect the relationship between social responsibility and employee innovative behavior. Therefore, when fulfilling their social responsibilities, enterprises should also consider the psychological feelings of their employees. Enterprises can convey their visions to employees and influence their sense of contributing to society through sharing, to enhance employees’ sense of participation in enterprise CSR operations; these efforts would enhance the influence of CSR on employee innovative behavior. For managers who want to fulfill CSR and create a happy enterprise, this inside-out CSR implementation model is ideal. Internally, the implementation model can enhance employee well-being, cohesiveness, and creativity. Externally, this inside-out CSR implementation model can enhance the overall value of the enterprise, including through improving the corporate image and brand value and even bringing substantial profit for the enterprise through cause marketing.