Aju, Oluseyi Oluwabukunmi (2020) Employees’ Social Expectations: The Reciprocity of Fulfilment and Neglect in the Nigerian Workplace. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Present research studies on Employee-Centred Corporate Social Responsibility (EC-CSR) focus on the direct relationship between EC-CSR and Employee Organisational Commitment (EOC). Nevertheless, these studies are confined by their adoption of variable-centred techniques to test the EC-CSR-EOC nexus. As such, they provide limited insights into robust elements of EC-CSR, such as, the nature of employees’ social expectations and how and why employees reciprocate EC-CSR practices in certain ways. Furthermore, extant studies are overly focused on developed country contexts, thereby limiting our understanding of EC-CSR in developing countries; where working conditions are, in some places, not very good. For instance, the prevalence of industrial action in the money-spinning Nigerian oil industry suggests that some employees are being deprived of desired support in the workplace. Yet no serious effort has been made to conceptualise employees’ perspective of their employment relationship within the industry. To address these empirical gaps, this research draws on psychological contract and social exchange theories to explore the question: “What do workers in the Nigerian oil industry expect of EC-CSR, and how do they reciprocate the fulfilment and neglect of their expectations?’’ The research utilised a qualitative approach involving in-depth interviews with 25 indigenous entry-level and mid-level professionals working in three different oil companies in Nigeria (i.e., National Oil Agency-NOA; Transnational Oil Company-TNOC; and Private Indigenous Oil Company-POC).

The findings suggest that employees’ social expectations were diverse, with contrasting differences being observed in relation to expectations of employees in the public sector organisation (i.e., NOA) and the expectations of their counterparts in private sector organisations (i.e., TNOC & POC). While employees in TNOC and POC perceived that their organisations had been socially supportive, their counterparts in the NOA were cynical about the organisation, due to its somewhat negligent behaviour towards employee wellbeing. The reciprocal reactions of employees to EC-CSR, also varied across three employee groups, with employees in TNOC and POC exhibiting moderate affective organisational commitment (moderate AOC), as they believed that excessive affection towards the organisation could cause emotional damage if the employment relationship is severed later. Additionally, continuance organisational commitment (CC) was exhibited only by female employees in private sector organisations, due to access to maternal support services like workplace nursery and medical care. Interestingly, it was found across the board that positive relationship with co-workers, rather than EC-CSR practices, have greater implications for affective organisational commitment (AOC). Lastly, despite the perceived negligent behaviour of the organisation, employees in the NOA were conditioned by their official ideology, as well as their indigenous and denominational orientations, to exhibit positive reciprocity (i.e., civic behaviour) in the face of organisational neglect.

This research contributes to the EC-CSR literature as it is one of the few that have integrated organisational psychology theories to conceptualise EC-CSR from the perspective of employees. The research refutes extant studies, which suggest that, positive positive reciprocity in the workplace are directly influenced by EC-CSR, and thus provide theoretical contributions as to how cordial workplace relationship, indigenous orientation, denominational orientation and official ideology, can elicit positive reciprocity in the face of organisational negligence. The research also extends the EOC literature by advancing moderate affective commitment. Overall, findings from this research could help managers in having a better understanding of employees’ mind-set across private and the public sector organisations, and in creating social interventions aimed at enhancing working lives and in fostering harmony between employees and their organisations.

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