The Demotivating Effects of Communicating a Social-Political Stance: Field Experimental Evidence from an Online Labor Market Platform

Accepted, Management Science

38 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019 Last revised: 11 Dec 2019

Date Written: December 10, 2019

Abstract

Despite a recent surge in corporate activism, with firm leaders communicating about social-political issues unrelated to their core businesses, we know little about its strategic implications. This paper examines the effect of an employer communicating a stance about a social-political issue on employee motivation, using a two-phase, pre-registered field experiment in an online labor market platform. Results demonstrate an asymmetric treatment effect of taking a stance depending on whether the employee agrees or disagrees with that stance. Namely, I observe a demotivating effect of taking a stance on a social-political issue with which employees disagree, and no statistically significant motivating effect of taking a stance on a social-political issue with which employees agree. This study has important implications for the nascent scholarship on corporate activism, as well as the scholarship on strategic human capital management.

Keywords: corporate political activism, CEO activism, field experiment, employee motivation, productivity

Suggested Citation

Burbano, Vanessa, The Demotivating Effects of Communicating a Social-Political Stance: Field Experimental Evidence from an Online Labor Market Platform (December 10, 2019). Accepted, Management Science, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3405691 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3405691

Vanessa Burbano (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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