Business, Strategy and The Environment
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Research on corporate greenwashing has expanded rapidly in recent years. At the same time, emerging studies in related literatures have found that employees are seeking out firms that are social and environmental leaders, and employee activism within firms is growing. However, the effect of firms’ exaggeration and misrepresentation of environmental claims, or greenwashing, on their own employees has been overlooked. Accordingly, we investigate greenwashing from an organizational psychology lens, exploring the impact it can have on employees, and whether these effects differ for different types of employees. Using data collected at three separate time points from a sample of employees educated in environmental science/sustainability, our results show that greenwashing was positively related to perceptions of corporate hypocrisy, which in turn, resulted in higher turnover intentions. We also found that these relationships were moderated by employees’ level of environmental education. By uncovering the deleterious effects greenwashing can have for employees and, by extension, for their employers, these findings generate insights into the extent to which corporate environmental communications can backfire.
Citation of this paper:
Robertson, J. L., Montgomery, A. W., & Ozbilir, T. (2023). Employees' response to corporate greenwashing. Business Strategy and the Environment, 1– 13. https://doi.org/10.1002/bse.3351