New Research: Forthcoming by Maurice O’Rourke and Simon Peel at PERA 2010

What do students look for in a potential employer? Corporate Social Performance as a source of attraction.

Maurice O’Rourke (Master of Business graduate at the Department of Management and Marketing, Unitec) and Simon Peel (Dean of Research at Unitec)

Paper is to be presented at PERA 2010: Pacific Employment Relations Association ( (November 2010)


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This study investigates the importance and impact of an organisation’s espoused Corporate Social Performance (CSP) on job-seeker attitudes towards that organisation.  This study asks “to what extent do job-seekers find Corporate Social Performance, and its elements, to be attractive in a potential employer?”

The five sub-dimensions/elements of CSP investigated were: employee relations, treatment of women and minorities, concern for the environment, product quality, and community relations. CSP was explored in its entirety and as individual elements and contrasted for relative importance against five more traditional organisational attributes; challenging work, training and development, pay compensation and benefits, career advancement, and job security.

This study was conducted using a survey questionnaire with a population of Undergraduate Business Degree students from a large institute of technology. Participants were asked to assess the value of CSP in a potential employer, and rank and scale the individual elements in order of importance. The survey sought participant views and opinions as to the reason for their selections and rankings of importance.

This study finds that, overall, traditional job factors hold more importance than CSP to job-seekers, however, the element ‘employee relations’ was prominent as being valued in an employer. Of the five CSP elements measured in this study ‘employee relations’ and ‘product quality’ ranked first and second most important in a potential employer respectively. It was also found that different job-seeking populations may value certain CSP elements differently. Additionally, the findings of this study indicate that job-seekers value CSP elements that have direct impact, and are more closely linked to daily work life more highly than those seemingly more removed. The findings of this study suggest that there are many and varied influences that impact on job-seeker perceptions of the importance of CSP in a potential employer, and a number of theoretical rationales. A key finding was that job-seekers may perceive CSP as a ‘commitment’ to them by employers. Furthermore, from a theoretical standpoint social identity theory and signalling theory appeared to offer explanatory value. This study found support for the perceived attraction, value and importance of espoused organisational CSP activity in potential employers by job-seekers.


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