A multilevel perspective on employee green behaviour

Norton, Thomas (2016). A multilevel perspective on employee green behaviour PhD Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2016.285

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Author Norton, Thomas
Thesis Title A multilevel perspective on employee green behaviour
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2016.285
Publication date 2016-06-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Stacey L. Parker
Hannes Zacher
Neal M, Ashkanasy
Total pages 153
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
1503 Business and Management
Formatted abstract
Modern organisations increasingly experience pressure from regulatory, normative, and social sources to be more environmentally friendly. Extant research shows that employee engagement in proenvironmental “green” behaviours enhances organisational outcomes regarding environmental sustainability. Despite contextual differences between the workplace and the home, however, and evidence that people differ in their green behaviour across these settings, contemporary explanations as to why employees engage in green behaviours at work continue to draw from environmental psychology research on private green behaviour at home. Thus, there is a need to understand more clearly the nature of green behaviour as it occurs specifically in the work context. This requires an approach that considers the organisational context as a contributing factor, and acknowledges that green behaviour at work constitutes a particular form of job performance. In this research therefore, I sought to address these points by investigating how employee perceptions of the organisational context influence both required (i.e., task-related) and voluntary (i.e., proactive) employee green behaviour (EGB). Consistent with this aim, I collected data from employee samples uisng constructs from organisational behaviour, such as organisational climate and job performance, in a multilevel and mixed-methods program of research.

In Chapter 1 (Case Study), I briefly outline the climatic changes that are prompting organisations to engage with environmental sustainability. I outline macro-level organisational activities and present a case study that highlights the central role of employee behaviour. Finally, I critique the literature and identify three limitations that inform the research questions I address through my program of research.

In Chapter 2 (Systematic Review), I present a detailed review of the EGB literature, and organise research findings into a multilevel conceptual framework. Within this framework, I propose that person and context factors contribute to motivational states that drive required (i.e., task-related) and voluntary (i.e., proactive) EGB. Based in this literature, I outline an agenda for future research to answer key questions to move the literature forward.

In Chapter 3 (Study 1), I describe a study of how perceived organisational policy for sustainability effects EGB, and whether or not perceptions of green climate mediate this relationship. I used a cross-sectional survey design to collect data from a sample of office workers (n = 168), and developed a green psychological climate construct comprising perceptions of the organisation and co-workers. Using structural equation modelling, I found unique effects for different perceptions on types of employee green behaviour. Specifically, climate perceptions regarding the organisation mediated the effect of perceived sustainability policy on task-related EGB; whereas climate perceptions regarding co-workers mediated the effect of perceived policy on proactive EGB. This study highlights a psychological mechanism that might determine the efficacy of policy responses to sustainability.

In Chapter 4 (Study 2), I used a daily diary design to investigate whether green climate perceptions moderate the relationship between intentions on one day and EGB the next day. I collected diary data from a sample of employees (n = 75) daily for two work weeks. Results from multilevel hierarchical linear modelling showed the relationship between intentions and next-day behaviour was stronger if employees perceived a more positive green climate at their organisation. This study highlights intra-individual variation in EGB, and the role psychological green climate perceptions play in moderating the relationship between intentions and behaviour.

In Chapter 5 (Study 3), I used an experimental vignette methodology to determine the influence of different behavioural features and types of motivation towards the environment on intentions to engage in task-related and proactive EGB. Data revealed that the sample of office workers (n = 107) had (1) stronger intentions for task-related and proactive behaviours, and (2) stronger intentions for easy and enjoyable EGBs across both task-related and proactive behaviours. My analysis of employees’ motivation toward the environment revealed a complex pattern of main and interactive effects on EGB intentions, with different types of motivation being more or less influential for different types of EGBs. This study also demonstrates a novel approach that researchers and practitioners may wish to use to understand the nature and effects of EGB behaviours.

In Chapter 6 (General Discussion), I describe the importance of individuals’ perceptions of context, the distinction between required (i.e. task-related) and voluntary (i.e., proactive) EGB, and the dynamic nature of EGB and related intentions. Overall, my research shows that EGB is dynamic and that there is a meaningful distinction between green behaviours that contribute to task performance (i.e., task-related) and those that contribute to the broader organisational context (i.e., proactive). When considering how organisation-level actions can influence these types of behaviour, my findings reveal that employee perceptions of the green climate they are exposed to at work plays an important role. These perceptions provide an important psychological link between organisational activity regarding environmental sustainability and employee behaviour. Future research could benefit by building on this work and in particular by considering the effect of aggregated climate perceptions (i.e., organisational climate) on observable behaviours. I conclude that communication of environmental values from organisations to employees is critical, but should be executed in a way that facilitates positive green psychological climate perceptions, both for task-related and voluntary proactive green behaviours.
Keyword Environmental sustainability
Employee green behaviour
Organisational behaviour
Organisational climate
Task behaviour
Proactive behaviour

Document type: Thesis
Collections: UQ Theses (RHD) - Official
UQ Theses (RHD) - Open Access
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Created: Wed, 11 May 2016, 22:13:23 EST by Thomas Norton on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)