SOURCE: Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School

August 15, 2016 13:15 ET

New Research Shows That Even in the For-Profit World, Employees Will Sacrifice Salary for Strong Corporate Social Responsibility

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - August 15, 2016) -

  • Companies that want to hire the most highly qualified and productive workers should promote their corporate social responsibility.
  • Workers submitted wage bids that were lower by almost half of what they normally would demand when they received a company's corporate social responsibility messaging.
  • Different personality types are influenced by social responsibility messaging.

According to new research from Columbia Business School, workers of all ages increasingly value purpose and meaningfulness at work, so much so that they are willing to give up monetary benefits in exchange.

"We tend to think of valuing non-monetary benefits over money only in mission-driven and public service organizations, but this research demonstrates that workers in for-profit organizations are also motivated by a company's social responsibility," said author Vanessa Burbano, assistant professor of management at Columbia Business School.

By conducting field experiments in two online labor marketplaces, Burbano studied the relationship between social responsibility and employee salary requirements in settings where workers were making real decisions about job opportunities and compensation. She discovered that information about an employer's social responsibility could favorably influence prospective workers. In one study, workers submitted 44% lower wage bids for the same position after learning about an employer's social responsibility.

Burbano also found that higher-performing, more qualified workers were willing to forego the wage differential they would otherwise demand after receiving information about the employer's social responsibility.

"There has been a commonly held view that workers who are altruistic by nature are the ones that are responsive to social responsibility, but these two studies show that even purely self-interested individuals prefer socially responsible employers. It's the idea that if an employer treats the broader community well, it's more likely to treat employees well," said Burbano.

The research, titled Social Responsibility Messages and Worker Wage Requirements: Field Experimental Evidence from Online Labor Marketplaces can be found here.

To learn more about the cutting-edge research being conducted at Columbia Business School, please visit

About Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School is the only world-class, Ivy League business school that delivers a learning experience where academic excellence meets with real-time exposure to the pulse of global business. Led by Dean Glenn Hubbard, the School's transformative curriculum bridges academic theory with unparalleled exposure to real-world business practice, equipping students with an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to recognize, capture, and create opportunity in any business environment. The thought leadership of the School's faculty and staff, combined with the accomplishments of its distinguished alumni and position in the center of global business, means that the School's efforts have an immediate, measurable impact on the forces shaping business every day. To learn more about Columbia Business School's position at the very center of business, please visit

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