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Research Methodology (LBPG5018) Assignment 1 (25%)
Provisional Title of Research Proposal (23 words)
Corporate Social Responsibility in the fashion retail industry: A study of the influences on CSR
engagement amongst low level employees vis-à-vis the organisation.
Aim of research (30 words)
The aim of this study is to explore the main drivers which motivate employee engagement in CSR
through a cross-sectional examination of institutional and organisational (macro and micro level)
Objectives of research (42 words)
• To understand the motivations behind why low level employees choose to engage
in/uphold the Corporate Social Responsibility practices and policies of a retail firm.
• To understand the institutional drivers and how these drivers moderate low level
employee engagement in Corporate Social Responsibility.
Rationale for study (388 words)
A study by Aguinis and Glavas’ (2012, pp933-934) conducted a review of the literature on CSR
from a total of 690 journal articles, books and book chapters which found that the current
literature on CSR is heavily dominated by studies at the macro level and little attention has been
given to the role of CSR at an individual level. Furthermore, the author’s found that research on
CSR typically takes the form of a single level analysis and emphasise the need for both multi-level
and multidisciplinary reviews (Aguinis and Glavas, 2012, p953). A study which examines the
influences of CSR motivations at both an employee and organisational level would provide this
much needed multi-faceted analysis. The theme of motivational influences on employee
engagement in CSR is also supported in this rationale for study as it addresses this gap in the
literature by focusing on the impact of a firm’s CSR policies from an individual perspective. By
exploring the main drivers behind what motivates employees to engage in CSR, this degree of
analysis will also draw from both the business management and organisational behaviour
The study’s attention to employees at the lower level of the organisation and their motivations for
engaging in the firm’s CSR practices will provide a further dimension to Muller and Kolk’s (2010,
pp5-6) study which found that a high level of dedication from senior management to engage in
CSR has a positive influence on the level of the firm’s engagement in CSR. The study will look at a
particular international business which is currently engaging in CSR practices and so it would be
necessary to assume that its senior management is committed to CSR. Analysing the level of
commitment from senior management as a moderator of lower level employee engagement in
CSR practices will add to Muller and Kolk’s (2010) literature on the internal drivers of a firm’s CSR
practices and will provide a further level of understanding on whether senior level commitment
motivates lower level engagement.
Whilst Angus-leppan, Benn and Metcalf’s (2010, p189) work examines the institutional drivers
which influence the leadership style of the organisation’s CSR practices and provides some
understanding of various institutional drivers, similarly to Muller and Kolk’s (2010) study, the
focus remains on senior management and does not address the effect of these institutional
drivers on low level employee engagement.
Research approach or methodology proposed (339 words)
The methodological approach to the study will take the form of a covert, critical realist
ethnography on a single multinational retailer in the fashion retail industry. Firstly, the choice of
covert as opposed to overt is due to the highly criticised nature of a firm’s CSR practices and the
implications this can have for the business. Disclosing the research agenda to the organisation will
reduce cautiousness from the organisation being studied and improve the richness of the data
being collected alongside, addressing potential access barriers by the firm (Oliver and Eales, 2008,
Secondly, the choice of an ethnographic study will provide a contextual basis of the organisations’
setting live from the field itself over a period of time and will help address the first objective by
providing a deeper understanding of the individual factors which influence low level employee
engagement in CSR (Marschan-Piekkari et al, 2004, p245).
Thirdly, the critical realist element to the ethnographic study will provide an examination of the
connections between the individual and institutional drivers of CSR engagement and thus, will
help to address the second objective (Sharpe, 2004, p309).
The data collection methods will consist of both primary and secondary research using qualitative
data. As the ethnographic study will be covert, the primary research will be collected through field
notes based on formal participant observations (Sharpe, 2004, p317).
There will be a need for the collection of secondary data to help address the second objective.
The secondary data will be collected from multiple sources such as journals, books, industry
reports and written documentary materials including international organisational and firm specific
The collection of secondary data will allow for an understanding of the institutional environment
(Marschan-Piekkari et al, 2004, p245) as well the institutional factors which motivate the retailers’
engagement in CSR. The results from the secondary data collection will then be compared with
the results from the primary data to provide an understanding on which (if any) of the
institutional drivers of CSR engagement have a direct influence on the individual drivers.
Reference list
Aguinis, H. and Glavas, A. (2012) What We Know and Don’t Know About Corporate Social
Responsibility: A Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Management, 4, 932-968
Angus-leppan, T., Benn, S. and Metcalf, T. (2010) Leadership Styles and CSR Practice: An
Examination of Sensemaking, Institutional Drivers and CSR Leadership. Journal of Business Ethics,
93, 189-213
Marschan-Piekkari, R., Welch, C., Penttinen, H., and Marja, T. (2004) Interviewing in the
Multinational Corporation: Challenges of the Organisational Context, in Marschan-Piekkari, R. and
Welch, C. (eds) Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for International Business,
Massachusetts, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp244-263
Muller, A., and Kolk, A. (2010) Extrinsic and Intrinsic Drivers of Corporate Social Performance:
Evidence from foreign and domestic firms in Mexico. Journal of Management Studies, 47, 1-26
Sharpe, D.R. (2004) The Relevance of Ethnography to International Business Research, in
Marschan-Piekkari, R. and Welch, C. (eds) Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for
International Business, Massachusetts, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp306-323
Word Count: 822

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