Purpose: Internationalization has witnessed rapid growth of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in emerging markets, requiring reflection on how to operate within these markets. The purpose of this paper is to assist MNEs to adapt to these markets, and adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy with social initiatives (SIs), relevant to stakeholders, including their employees and the communities they reside in. The current paper does this by examining the relationships between employee identification with the organization’s SIs (SI-I) and their engagement in them (SI-E), alongside their perspective on the general importance of CSR (ICSR) and employee values to help with CSR (VCSR). The findings will better prepare managers in pre-emerging and emerging markets to design CSR strategy and SIs relevant to these markets and their communities. Design/methodology/approach: Guided by social identity theory, this paper examines local employee identification of SI (SI-I) and engagement in SI (SI-E), in two MNE subsidiaries across varying emerging market levels in developing countries, utilizing a quantitative survey design. Structural equation modeling is utilized to analyze responses of N=544 employees in two South East Asian countries, namely, Indonesia (as an emerging country) and Vietnam (as a pre-emerging country), to determine any differences that may exist between the two countries. Findings: The findings reveal that SI identification (SI-I) has a strong effect on employee engagement in SIs (SI-E) and also the importance they attach to organizations conducting CSR (ICSR). However, employee values to help with CSR activities (VCSR) has an effect on Vietnamese employees but not Indonesian employees. Likewise, SI-I mediates the effect between ICSR and SI-E for Vietnamese employees but not for Indonesian, suggesting differences exist between these two developing countries where the less developed country, Vietnam, is defined as pre-emerging and Indonesia as an emerging market (MSCI, 2016). Practical implications: An awareness of the differences that may exist across employees in emerging markets will assist managers to design CSR strategy relevant to the level of market emergence of the host country, allowing for better CSR SIs identification and engagement in these countries. Originality/value: The research model for this analysis utilizes constructs based on past Identification literature, while including new constructs for this study adapted from past literature, and underpinned uniquely by social identity theory in an International Business setting. The findings indicate differences between emerging and pre-emerging markets for particular constructs, which suggests the importance of considering the market level when implementing MNE CSR strategy. Limited research has been conducted examining the differences between emerging and pre-emerging markets, so further research is required to replicate these findings and provide insight into the differences that may exist for CSR SIs in emerging markets.
- Corporate social responsibility
- Emerging markets
- Employee values and engagement
- Multinational enterprises
- Social identity theory
- Social initiatives