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What do External and Internal Corporate Social Responsibility do? Evidence from a Firm-level Field Experiment
Last registered on June 03, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
What do External and Internal Corporate Social Responsibility do? Evidence from a Firm-level Field Experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005959
Initial registration date
June 03, 2020
Last updated
June 03, 2020 10:16 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Stanford Graduate School of Business
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2020-04-01
End date
2021-02-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This study provides answers to two research questions. First, what are the impacts of corporate social responsibility (CSR) messages on employee attrition, productivity, and well-being? Second, we compare two types of CSR information-external CSR and internal CSR- to examine which type of CSR is more effective.

We conduct a 3-month field experiment on more than 8,000 workers in 145 stores of a large multi-national spa chain home-based in China. The spa worker's job is physically exhausting. Workers have long working hours and the attrition rate is very high. Thus, the strategic provision of corporate social responsibility messages could be an effective managerial practice to improve employee attrition, productivity, and worker well-being.

We assign stores into two treatment groups and one control group. In both treatment groups, workers receive a corporate social responsibility message every other day through the company's information system. Our first treatment, labeled as "external CSR", is to send workers information about the firm's external CSR events in history. Examples include but are unlimited to the firm's subsidizing the socially disadvantaged groups, building schools, and donating during natural disasters. Our second treatment, labeled as "internal CSR", is to provide employees with information on the firm's internal CSR events, for example, setting up relief funding, providing resources for, and helping out its own workers during difficult times. The difference between the two treatments is that external CSR is not directed related to worker's welfare, while internal CSR is closely related.

The field experiment starts on June 1st, 2020, and lasts 14 weeks (3 months).
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Wu, Hugh Xiaolong. 2020. "What do External and Internal Corporate Social Responsibility do? Evidence from a Firm-level Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. June 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5959-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We provide workers with two types of corporate social responsibility messages (external and internal CSR) every other day.
Intervention Start Date
2020-06-01
Intervention End Date
2020-09-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Personnel Turnover
Employee productivity (sales, repeated customer, compensation, attendance, etc.)
Store-level performances (e.g. revenues, customer visits)
Employee well-being
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Pro-social behavior (this outcome is for another separate study, measured by sales one helps coworkers achieve)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We assign stores into two treatment groups and one control group. In both treatment groups, workers receive a corporate social responsibility message every other day through the company's information system. Our first treatment, labeled as "external CSR", is to send workers information about the firm's external CSR events in history. Examples include but are unlimited to the firm's subsidizing the socially disadvantaged groups, building schools, and donating during natural disasters. Our second treatment, labeled as "internal CSR", is to provide employees with information on the firm's internal CSR events, for example, setting up relief funding, providing resources for, and helping out its own workers during difficult times. The difference between the two treatments is that external CSR is not directed related to worker's welfare, while internal CSR is closely related.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in office by a computer: We select employees into treatments or control groups by store using the stratified randomization method. In addition to the average attrition rate (store-level), we stratify on store sales and size, since these characteristics are correlated with turnovers, productivity, and well-being.
Randomization Unit
Store
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
145 stores
Sample size: planned number of observations
8,000 workers
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
48-49 stores per arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Stanford University Research Compliance Office
IRB Approval Date
2020-06-01
IRB Approval Number
waived by IRB