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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Charles C. Manz

Subject Categories

Organizational Behavior and Theory


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become entrenched in organization studies, but with much confusion as to what it actually means. There are many different definitions of the term in the literature, representing multiple perspectives of the phenomenon being studied, be it ethical, instrumental, institutional, or process-oriented. The commonality tying the CSR literature together is the focus on the role of organizations in society, whether that role is understood from an ethical standpoint or an economic one, at the institutional or individual level, or from a psychological or process perspective. In this qualitative inductive study, I explore how organizational identity and the underlying social psychological processes influence organizational member understanding of social responsibility. I conduct a comparative case analysis, developing four case studies of organizational CSR processes and practices, examining the various ways in which CSR is understood. The four cases represent four different coffee roasting organizations within the specialty coffee industry. Exploring patterns arising among the cases, I find similarities and differences in the relationships between organizational identity and CSR, pointing to the importance of underlying social identity processes in organizational member understanding of social responsibility. I develop propositions regarding how organizational identity and social identity processes influence member understanding of CSR, specifically using social creativity. I offer a model of organizational identity dynamics explicating the relationship between organizational identity and the maintenance of positive distinctiveness, introducing the concept of organizational identity centrality as a mechanism motivating different social creativity strategies influencing member understanding of social responsibility. I discuss the implications of the model for further theory development and testing in both the CSR and organizational identity literatures.