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Title: Work Climate: Implications for Pro-Environmental Behavior, Workplace Engagement, and Recruitment
Contributor(s): Hicklenton, Carol (author); Loi, Natasha  (supervisor)orcid ; Bartel, Robyn  (supervisor)orcid ; Hine, Donald  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2020-07-09
Copyright Date: 2020-03
Open Access: Yes
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Related DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0223774
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Abstract: Business activity to address issues of sustainability, environmental protection, and climate change has associated costs and benefits that organizations are likely to consider before embarking on strategies to address these concerns. This thesis examined the influence of work climate on motivation and engagement for current and prospective employees in Australia. Self-determination theory (SDT) and person-organization (PO) fit theory were the main theoretical frameworks used in this program of research to investigate employees' motivation, work engagement, and pro-environmental behavior inside and outside the workplace; and job seekers' perceptions of the attractiveness of a range of workplace attributes. A total of three empirical studies were conducted in order to address three corresponding research questions: (1) How does work climate (i.e., pro-environmental work climate and employee autonomy support) influence employee motivation to engage in proenvironmental behavior (PEB) inside the workplace, and can certain aspects of work climate foster high levels of autonomous motivation for PEB that encourages its spillover to areas outside the workplace?, (2) Does high green-person-organization fit (GPO; the extent to which an organization's commitment to pro-environmental outcomes is congruent with its employees' environmental values) predict employees' intrinsic need satisfaction and engagement in the workplace?, and (3) Which organizational attributes are the strongest predictors of perceived organization attractiveness in a sample of Australian job seekers, and does the magnitude of these predictive effects vary as a function of job seekers' personal values?
Study 1 investigated the potential impact of work climate on employee motivation, and pro-environmental behavior both inside and outside the workplace, to determine whether a strong pro-environmental work climate is sufficient to generate autonomous motivation to engage in pro-environmental behavior, or whether it is necessary for organizations to also support their workers' autonomy. Using moderated-mediation analysis, this study examined the process by which work climate influences employee motivation and PEB at low, moderate, and high levels of employee autonomy support. This study found that in workplaces with stronger pro-environmental climates and at least moderate levels of autonomy support, employees reported higher levels of autonomous motivation to engage in PEB. In turn, employees with higher levels of autonomous motivation engaged in more PEBs, both inside and outside the workplace.
Study 2 extended the findings of Study 1 by examining the relationship between proenvironmental climate and employees' work and job engagement. This study combined PO fit theory and SDT to assess whether high GPO fit predicts intrinsic need satisfaction and workplace engagement. The study investigated whether a strong pro-environmental work climate increases employee motivation and engagement on its own, independent of GPO fit. This has important implications for recruitment and training. Using moderated-mediation analysis, the study also investigated the process by which GPO fit influences engagement, and whether the relationship between GPO fit and intrinsic need satisfaction is conditional on employees' weak, moderate, and strong ecocentric values. The results of this study indicated that pro-environmental climate was an important predictor of intrinsic need satisfaction and engagement. Intrinsic need satisfaction fully mediated the effect of climate on engagement, and the mediation effect held for all participants regardless of whether they had weak, moderate, or strong ecocentric values. However, the indirect effect was significantly stronger when employees' ecocentric values were strong as opposed to weak.
Study 3 built on Studies 1 and 2 by examining workplace engagement in a recruitment context and assessing job seekers' attractiveness perceptions among organizational economic, development, interest, social, application, and environmental values. This study combined PO fit theory with a policy capturing methodology to determine (1) which organizational attributes are the strongest predictors of perceived organization attractiveness, and (2) whether the magnitude of these predictive effects varies as a function of job seekers' personal values. Multilevel modelling revealed that all six attributes positively predicted job seekers' ratings of organization attractiveness; with the three strongest predictors being social, environmental, and application value. Evaluation of cross-level interactions revealed that participants with strong self-transcendent or weak self-enhancement values were most sensitive to the absence of social, environmental, and application value, downrating organizations that scored low on these attributes.
Overall, these three studies found evidence suggesting that (1) autonomous motivation is a much stronger predictor of PEB than controlled motivation, and employees with the highest levels of autonomous motivation were found in organizations with strong pro-environmental climates and at least moderate levels of support for workers' autonomy, (2) the highest levels of employees' work motivation and workplace engagement were reported by participants with strong proenvironmental values working in organizations committed to positive environmental outcomes, and (3) job seekers regard an ideal organization as one that provides a positive social environment and is committed to customer/societal well-being and pro-environmental responsibility. These drivers were significantly more impactful that pay rates, opportunities for personal and career development, and stimulating / innovative work environments. Overall, this program of research adds to the literature on PO fit, SDT, employee engagement, employee PEB, and organization attractiveness in three important ways. First, by showing the influence of different work climates on organization attractiveness, employee motivation, work and job engagement, and workplace and non-workplace PEB. Second, by demonstrating the role of different types of motivation in mediating the relationships between work climate, and workplace engagement and PEB. Third, by showing how personal values can influence effects by work climate on motivation and work-related engagement.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 050206 Environmental Monitoring
150106 Sustainability Accounting and Reporting
170113 Social and Community Psychology
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 410599 Pollution and contamination not elsewhere classified
350107 Sustainability accounting and reporting
420403 Psychosocial aspects of childbirth and perinatal mental health
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 859999 Energy not elsewhere classified
930402 School/Institution Community and Environment
960703 Environmental Education and Awareness
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 169999 Other education and training not elsewhere classified
190203 Environmental education and awareness
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
Description: Access to the Dataset for this Thesis provided at the following link:
Appears in Collections:School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
School of Psychology
Thesis Doctoral

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