On SAGE Insight: Attitudes of University Students Regarding Potential Conflicts in Socially Responsible Companies

From Journal of Human Values

As a result of the increasing market competition to attract and retain employees with the highest qualifications and growth potential, McKinsey & Company (1997) coined the term ‘war for talent’. One of the ways for companies to make this possible is to uncover the socially responsible actions and behaviors through annual CSR reports and information based on responsible indices which include The Great Place to Work, Best Employers, Top 50 Employers and many more

It is understandable that the best qualified university students, after finishing their education, want to work for socially responsible companies (SRCs) in order to properly develop their careers. However, the personal values of the candidates at the moment they start to work for the SRC do not always fit their ethical conditions, codes and institutionalized responsible behaviors.

This article throws light on the potential conflicts of students at the moment they select a socially responsible company to work for, and what factors affect these attitudes, a research is conducted and the results show how students’ attitudes to potential conflicts are affected by variables such as area of knowledge, professional experience or the fact of combining their studies with a job outside the university.


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly viewed as a strategic management tool for companies to draw in candidates. In this arena, international responsible rankings such as ‘The Great Place to Work’, ‘Family Responsible Employer Index (FREE)’ or ‘The Best Companies for Working Mothers’ put emphasis on the value of responsible behaviors, not only for surviving in the market, but also to ‘win the war for talent’. Using a sample of Spanish University students, this research aims to analyze the process of selecting responsible organizations to work and whether there is a possible future conflict of interest by students between their own and organizational values. Surprisingly, the university students assessed two opposing situations with the highest values: of looking to change employer and of letting time pass in order to ignore the conflict. The implications of the students’ assessments and the related factors which affect their decision-making criteria are explored in this article.

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Article details
Jesus Barrena-Martinez, Macarena Lopez-Fernandez, Cristina Marquez-Moreno, and Pedro Miguel Romero-Fernandez
Attitudes of University Students Regarding Potential Conflicts in Socially Responsible Companies
Journal of Human Values May 2016 22: 125-138, first published on April 7, 2016 doi:10.1177/0971685816644091




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