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Impact of mobilization context on employees' donation intentions in China.

In China, most people prefer to donate via one of three methods: directly to the nonprofit organization, to the beneficiary, or through contributions organized by the workplace or the community. The former two are considered direct donation methods whereas the last one is an indirect donation method. In China, people rarely donate spontaneously. Eighty-four percent of individual donations are given through contributions organized by educational institutes, workplaces, and communities (Yu, 2008). A large proportion of small donations to the Hope Project, a Chinese charitable project, comes from collective donations, and constitutes the mass base of the Hope Project fund (Xu, 1999). Liu (2004) found that people who participate in workplace contributions account for 77.5% of the total number of individual donors and that donating via this method was 14 times more common than direct donations. Thus, the most common method used by individuals in China to participate in charitable causes is to donate through contributions organized by a collective. Therefore, we examined the influential mechanism of the most popular donation method, which includes employees' donation intentions, and the perceived pressure under different mobilization contexts on the workplace contributions.

In our study, mobilization context refers to the environment in which employees are requested to participate in workplace contributions. We identified four different mobilization contexts based on the relationship between employees and the organizer of the contributions in the workplace, and whether or not the list of donors and amount of donations were released after the money was collected (see Table 1).

No previous researchers have identified the concept of mobilization context specifically, but some have discussed it. In a general donation context, Sun, Jin, He, and Bi (1999) found that the mobilization context of a donation campaign could influence an individual's decision-making process, and observed that it acts as a motivating factor for individuals' donation behaviors.

Even though the influence of mobilization context on people's donation behaviors has been pointed out in previous studies (see e.g., Sun et al., 1999), the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Thus, in order to determine the effect of mobilization context on employees' donation behaviors, we developed two research questions: Our first aim was to find out whether or not the relationship between the organizer of workplace mobilization and employees could affect employees' donation intentions. Long (1976) found that the relationship between the solicitor and the donor could affect an individual's giving behavior. Thus, we investigated the effect of the relationship between solicitors and donors' individual giving behaviors in the context of workplace contributions. Second, Martin and Randal (2009) pointed out that the individuals' giving behaviors and their giving amounts were significantly affected by other people's giving behaviors. Based on this finding, we examined in our four contexts whether or not the employees' donation intentions and the perceived pressure could be influenced by the giving behaviors of their colleagues in workplace contributions.

Literature Review and Hypothesis

Workplace Mobilization and Individual Donation

In a few empirical studies concerning individuals' donation behaviors in workplace mobilization, researchers have investigated the impact of social pressure on giving behaviors. Keating, Pitts, and Appel (1981) argued that the reason why people in the workplace were willing to donate was because that they feared losing their jobs. They also found that social pressure could significantly affect employees' donation behaviors and their donation amounts. In their study, social pressure refers to whether or not employers have any form of donation campaigns on the job and whether or not the employers seek the participation in the campaigns of 100% of employees. Moreover, Carman (2004) found that individuals' giving behaviors were affected by their peers' behaviors, and that this effect was stronger within salary quartiles and according to gender. However, none of these researchers explored the individual's donation behavior in the context of contributions specifically organized by employers.

Scholars in China have studied the influence of workplace mobilization on individual donation behavior. He (2002) found that the frequency of workplace contributions is the most influential variable affecting donation behaviors. From the sociological perspective, Bi, Jin, Ma, and He (2010) also found that workplace mobilization has a positive effect on the number of individual donations. Both the frequency and amount of donations increased as workplace mobilization efforts increased. Therefore, we believe that, even though the influential role of workplace mobilization in donation behavior has been identified, the underlying mindset of individual donation in the workplace mobilization still needs to be explored.

Mobilization Context, Perceived Pressure, and Employees' Donation Intention

Previous researchers of the influence of mobilization on donation behavior have only examined the pattern and technology of mobilization (Sun et al., 1999), and not adopted the empirical method to measure them. Therefore, our first aim was to define and measure mobilization context. The first dimension of the mobilization context is the organizer of the contributions who could be the donators' supervisor or their peer. Sun et al. (1999) highlighted that the participation of leaders was an important part of the success of a charity program. Individual giving behavior and amount of donation are significantly affected by the giving behavior and amount given by others (Martin & Randal, 2009; Reyniers & Bhalla, 2013).

Because one of the most common motivators for workplace contributions in China is the release of a list of donors' names and the amounts they donated, in order to compel employees to donate more, the second dimension of mobilization context is the type of motivations used in the workplace to generate contributions, which depends on whether or not the list of donors and amount of donations are released after the money has been collected.

In terms of these two dimensions, four different mobilization contexts were identified in our study (see Table 1). Based on findings in previous studies, in these different contexts, employees' perceived pressures and donation intentions vary. Therefore, we proposed the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1: Employees' donation intentions will vary significantly according to the mobilization context.

Hypothesis 2: Employees' perceived pressure to donate will vary significantly according to the mobilization context.

Social pressure positively influences an individual's giving behavior and the amount of the donation (Dellavigna, List, & Malmendier, 2012; Shang & Croson, 2009). Sun et al. (1999) found that the majority of employees' donations in China are attributed to social pressure in workplace mobilization. Even though previous researchers have reported finding a positive relationship between social pressure and giving behavior, the motivation behind individual donations remains unknown. Keating, Pitts, and Appel (1981) suggested that the donation of an employee to a charity campaign is sometimes a response to coercion to maintain his or her job. In this case, the donation behavior is a passive response of an employee to social pressure to make workplace contributions. Thus, we believed that the greater the perceived pressure in workplace mobilization, the less voluntary the donation intention would be.

Hypothesis 3: Employees' perceived pressure will have a significantly negative mediating role in the relationship between mobilization context in the workplace and employees' donation intentions.

Method

Procedure

Surveys were sent to employees in 50 different organizations of different types and sizes in China. Within each organization, 50 employees were identified as contact persons and 20 surveys, 5 for each scenario, were sent to the contact person in each organization. These people distributed the surveys to the appropriate respondents. In total, 1,000 surveys were sent; 601 of the surveys were answered and returned, and 528 were complete and usable. For the four different scenarios of contributions organized by the workplace, 128 usable surveys were collected for mobilization context 1 (MC1), 135 for MC2, 133 for MC3, and 133 for MC4. We compared the surveys for the four MCs and found no significant difference in demographic variables among the participants for each scenario.

Participants

There were 276 male (52.3%) and 252 female participants (47.7%) who were grouped into four age categories: 18-24 years (16 participants, 3.0%), 25-30 years (208 participants, 39.4%), 31-40 years (237 participants, 44.9%), and 41-60 years (67 participants, 12.7%). The distribution of levels of education were: high school (7 participants, 1.3%), junior college (48 participants, 9.1%), undergraduate (305 participants, 57.8%), and graduate (168 participants, 31.8%). Participants' annual income ranges were: less than 30,000 RMB (approximately US$4,930; 16.5%), 30,000-80,000 RMB (approximately US$4,930-13,150; 42.0%), 80,000-150,000 RMB (approximately US$13,150-24,660; 29.2%), and more than 150,000 RMB (approximately US$24,660; 12.3%). In terms of types of organization, 81 participants worked for the government (15.3%), 239 for domestic Chinese companies (45.3%), 60 for foreign corporations (11.4%), and 148 for private corporations (28%). Their positions within the organization were senior managers (3.6%), middle managers (23.1%), first-line managers (27.5%), and general employees (45.8%).

Measurement

We conducted a survey to empirically examine the proposed model. We designed four versions of the survey that corresponded to the four different mobilization contexts and participants were randomly assigned to one of the four mobilization contexts, as shown in Table 1. The beginning of the text in the survey form read as follows:
   Assume that your workplace mobilizes their employees to donate for
   a certain cause (such as a natural disaster, poverty, education,
   environmental protection, and so on). The campaign's organizer is
   your supervisor (or your peer), and he or she will release (or not)
   the list of donors and amount of donations after the campaign.
   Please imagine that you are in the above context and answer the
   following items.


Employees' perceived pressure and their donation intentions were measured on 7-point Likert-type scales. The scale for perceived pressure comprised one item, "The pressure you perceived in the above mobilization context is...", and answers were scored from 1 (no pressure) to 7 (highest pressure). Two items were designed to measure employees' donation intentions: "I am willing to donate in the above mobilization context", and "I am willing to donate so long as my workplace organizes the contribution". The response scale ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).

Participants' demographic data, including gender, age, level of education, annual income, the type of organization they worked for, and position within the organization were collected at the end of the survey.

Results

Reliability and Validity Testing

The results of reliability and validity testing showed that the Cronbach's [alpha] and composite reliability of the employees' donation intention scale were, respectively, .732 and .734, both greater than .7, indicating that the scale has good reliability. Standardized factor loadings for the two items were, respectively, .740 and .782, both greater than .6 and significant at [alpha] = .001, and the average variance extracted (AVE) was 0.580, higher than the recommended level of 0.50, indicating that the scale has a good level of validity.

Analysis of Perceived Pressure and Donation Intention in Different Mobilization Contexts

We conducted analyses of variance (ANOVA) and pairwise comparisons to examine whether or not perceived pressure and donation intention were significant in different mobilization contexts. As shown in Tables 2 and 3, perceived pressure (F = 7.605, p < .001) and donation intention (F = 2.690, p < .05) were significantly different in different mobilization contexts, fully supporting Hypotheses 1 and 2. Perceived pressure also increased sequentially from MC1 to MC4, whereas donation intention decreased sequentially from MC1 to MC4.

The results of pairwise comparison in Table 2 show that there were significant differences in perceived pressure between MC1 and MC3 (the difference in the two means is .547, p < .05), and between MC2 and MC4 (the difference of the two means is .712, p < .01), suggesting that under the same context, regardless of whether or not the organization releases the list of donors and amount of donations, different organizers exert significantly different levels of pressure on employees. Furthermore, there was no significant difference in perceived pressure between MC1 and MC2, or between MC3 and MC4, indicating that releasing the list of donors and amount of donations has no significant impact on perceived pressure when the organizer has already been confirmed. Thus, workplace mobilization organized by the supervisor had a more significant effect on perceived pressure than did releasing the list of donors and amount of donations.

As shown in Table 3, there was a significant difference in employees' donation intention between MC2 and MC4 (the difference of means is -0.817, p < .05), whereas MC1 and MC3 showed no significant difference. This result indicates that the person who organizes the contributions in the workplace significantly affects employees' donation intention only when the organization does not release the list of donors and the amount of donations. Furthermore, when the organizer has already been confirmed, there is no significant effect on employees' donation intention regardless of whether or not the list of donors and amount of donations is released.

The Mediating Role of Perceived Pressure

Hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to test the mediating role of perceived pressure and the results are shown in Table 4. The following conditions must be met for the mediating effect to be considered significant: 1) The regression coefficient of the independent variable on the dependent variable is significant; 2) the regression coefficient of the independent variable on the mediating variable is significant; and 3) when the independent variable and mediating dependent variable are simultaneously entered into the regression equation, the regression coefficient of the mediating variable on the dependent variable is significant and the regression coefficient of the independent variable on the dependent variable disappears or weakens (Wen, Hau, & Chang, 2005).

Given that mobilization context is a categorical variable, its effects on donation intention and perceived pressure are revealed by ANOVA (Tables 2 and 3). The regression coefficients are both significant and meet the first and second conditions. When mobilization context and perceived pressure are simultaneously entered into the equation where donation intention is the dependent variable, the mobilization context requires recoding. As shown in Table 3, employees' donation intention in MC4 was significantly different from MC1 and MC2. Thus, we used MC4 as the reference variable, and three dummy variables (MC1, MC2, and MC3) were generated. Table 4 shows that after the mediating variable was entered into the regression equation, the significant regression coefficients in M1 became insignificant in M2, and the regression coefficient of perceived pressure on donation intention was significantly negative. The third condition was satisfied. Hypothesis 3 was, therefore, confirmed; that is, perceived pressure had a significantly negative mediating role in the relationship between mobilization context in the workplace and employees' donation intention.

Discussion

Contributing to charitable causes organized in the workplace is an individual donation method in common use in China. Most Chinese employees have donated in this manner (Liu, 2004). No foreign scholar has analyzed this particular Chinese behavior, and few Chinese scholars have discussed this topic from the management perspective. Based on empirical evidence, we initially explored individual donations with Chinese characteristics by adopting quantitative approaches.

First, we believe that the influence of mobilization context in the workplace cannot be ignored. In proposing the concept of mobilization context in the workplace as well as measuring it, we found that there are significant differences in perceived pressure and employees' donation intentions in different mobilization contexts. Specifically, perceived pressure sequentially decreases in the four mobilization contexts from MC1 to MC4, whereas donation intention rises sequentially from MC1 to MC4. When the organizer is a supervisor and the list of donors and the donated amount are released, the perceived pressure is the highest, and the donation intention is the lowest. When the organizer is a peer and the list of donors and donated amounts are not released, the perceived pressure is the lowest, whereas the donation intention is the highest. Pairwise comparison revealed that the person who organizes the contributions in the workplace has a more significant effect on employees' perceived pressure than does the release of the list of donors and the amount of donations. Moreover, when the organizer of the contribution has been confirmed, releasing the list of donors and the amount of donations has no significant effect on perceived pressure. Based on these results, we conclude that the superior staff member significantly affects the decision making of other employees in regard to making donations in China, a high power distance country in which less powerful members accept and expect that power is distributed unequally (Curtis, Conover, & Chui, 2012; Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 1991).

Second, perceived pressure plays a mediating role in the relationship between mobilization context and employees' donation intention. This result is consistent with the findings of Sun et al. (1999). In addition, perceived pressure has a negative effect on donation intention. The greater the perceived pressure, the lower is the donation intention. Many scholars have reported that social pressure has a positive influence on donation behavior and amount of donation (see e.g., Dellavigna, List, & Malmendier, 2012; Shang & Croson, 2009). Our results in this research show that donating in workplace mobilization is rarely voluntary and may often be only a passive response to social pressure. "Passively voluntary" aptly describes this donation behavior of employees in the context of workplace mobilization in China.

In this study, we believe that we have filled a gap in the existing research on the influence of workplace mobilization on employees' donation intentions, and have enriched individual donation theories by considering mobilization contexts and corroborating a theoretical model with empirical evidence. Our findings also have several implications for practitioners. Donating through mobilization organized in the workplace is the most common method of collecting for charities in China. Thus, Chinese companies and international nonprofit organizations can conduct more efficient charitable campaigns on the basis of our research results.

Although we obtained some meaningful conclusions, there were also certain limitations to this study. We are the first to propose the construct of mobilization context and design a scale to measure it. Thus, the reliability and validity of the scale requires further testing and extension. Only the influence of mobilization context on employees' donation intentions was analyzed in this study; other factors, such as cause, organizational trust and identification, and the values of an employee and how they affect employees' donation intention still require further investigation. Third, in this study, we concluded that perceived pressure had a negative influence on employees' donation intentions, but previous researchers have suggested that employees are compelled to donate in several mobilization contexts (He, 2002; Sun et al., 1999). Therefore, passive donation remains a black box in the field of psychological research. Topics such as whether or not high perceived pressure increases the amount of donation still warrant further exploration.

http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2014.42.1.115

References

Bi, X., Jin, J., Ma, M., & He, J. (2010). The reach of Danwei mobilization: An analysis on urban residents' charitable giving to Project Hope [In Chinese]. Sociological Studies, 6, 149-177.

Carman, K. G. (2004). Social influences and the private provision of public goods: Evidence from charitable contributions in the workplace. Retrieved from http://www.rwj.harvard.edu/scholarsmaterials/carman/socialinfluences.pdf

Curtis, M. B., Conover, T. L., & Chui, L. C. (2012). A cross-cultural study of the influence of country of origin, justice, power distance, and gender on ethical decision making. Journal of International Accounting

Research, 11, 5-34. http://doi.org/fxxcmr

Dellavigna, S., List, J. A., & Malmendier, U. (2012). Testing for altruism and social pressure in charitable giving. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127, 1-56. http://doi.org/fz2dg3

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Martin, R., & Randal, J. (2009). How Sunday, price, and social norms influence donation behaviour. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 38, 722-727. http://doi.org/cprt7t

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Lanying Du and Fenfen Zhao

Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Chi Zhang

The University of Mississippi

Lanying Du and Fenfen Zhao, School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology; Chi Zhang, School of Business Administration, The University of Mississippi. This research was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Projects 71172094 and 71202050).

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Fenfen Zhao, School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 1037 Luoyu Road, Wuhan 430074, People's Republic of China. Email: fenfenzhao_024@163.com
Table 1. Mobilization Contexts

                                   Contributions organized
                                   by supervisor

Releasing the list of donors       Mobilization Context 1
and donation amounts               (MC1)

Not releasing the list of donors   Mobilization Context 2
and donation amounts               (MC2)

                                   Contributions organized
                                   by peer

Releasing the list of donors       Mobilization Context 3
and donation amounts               (MC3)

Not releasing the list of donors   Mobilization Context 4
and donation amounts               (MC4)

Table 2. ANOVA Results for Perceived Pressure in Different Mobilization
Contexts

         MC1         MC2       MC3       MC4         F

MC1   3.563 #
MC2   .177         3.386 #                       7.605 ***
MC3   .547 *       .370      3.016 #
MC4   .889 ***     .712 **   .342      2.674 #

Note. Data in bold on the diagonal line of the table are the means for
employees' perceived pressure under different mobilization contexts.
*** p < .001, ** p < .01, * p < .05.

Note. Data in bold on the diagonal line of the table are the means for
employees' perceived pressure under different mobilization contexts
indicated with #

Table 3. ANOVA Results for Employees' Donation Intention
in Different Mobilization Contexts

       MC1        MC2       MC3       MC4        F

MCA   9.375 #
MC2   0.079     9.296 #                        2.690 *
MC3   -.390     -.469     9.765 #
MC4   -.738 *   -.817 *   -.348     10.113 #

Note. Data in bold on the diagonal line of the table are
the means for employees' donation intention under different
mobilization contexts. * p < .05.

Note. Data in bold on the diagonal line of the table are
the means for employees' donation intention under different
mobilization contexts indicated with #.

Table 4. Results of Hierarchical Regression Analysis

                                M1               M2
Independent variables
  MC1                        -.119 *            -.052
  MC2                        -.134 *            -.080
  MC3                         -.057             -.031
  MC4                   Reference variable

Mediating variable
  Perceived pressure        -.292 ***
  [R.sup.2]                    .015             .097
  F                          2.690 *         14.027 ***
  [DELTA][R.sup.2]             .015             .082

Note. * p < .05, *** p < .001.
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Author:Du, Lanying; Zhao, Fenfen; Zhang, Chi
Publication:Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Feb 1, 2014
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