Melbourne Graduate School of Education - Research Publications

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    Subjective Wellbeing and the Social Responsibilities of Business: an Exploratory Investigation of Australian Perspectives
    Chia, A ; Kern, ML (Springer (part of Springer Nature), 2021-10-01)
    While the past decade has brought growing interest in and focus on the subjective wellbeing of society, there have been few empirical studies that have explored the social responsibilities, roles, and contributions of business, despite the pervasiveness of businesses as one of the core social institutions of modern societies. Through a survey of 1319 Australians, this study examines public perspectives of the social responsibilities of business to enhance subjective wellbeing. The findings suggest that the public does believe that businesses have some social responsibilities for subjective wellbeing. Exploratory analyses suggest that support is stronger for less privileged segments of the Australian public, and that a greater degree of social responsibility is expected for high-proximity stakeholders (e.g., employees) than low-proximity stakeholders (e.g., customers). Further, business activities that enhance subjective wellbeing may translate into desirable instrumental outcomes relevant to business performance. While findings need to be confirmed in other samples and using alternative study designs, the results suggest that ongoing policy debates on the various social determinants of societal wellbeing might benefit from incorporating consideration of the roles and responsibilities of business.
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    CSR for Happiness: Corporate determinants of societal happiness as social responsibility
    Chia, A ; Kern, ML ; Neville, BA (Wiley, 2020-07)
    Over the past decade, societal happiness has increasingly been considered important to public policy initiatives globally, supported by interdisciplinary scholarly efforts spanning the social sciences, economics, and public health. Curiously, despite for‐profit corporations being core social institutions of modern societies, scant attention has been given to the social role and responsibilities of corporations in relation to societal happiness. In this article, we review and integrate research from positive psychology and related disciplines to examine happiness as a social outcome of corporate activity. We propose that corporations have a social responsibility to respect, preserve, and advance people's right to, and experience of, happiness—which we term CSR for Happiness. Within the existing literature, stakeholder happiness has generally been narrowly conceptualized in hedonic terms and has failed to consider the broader impacts of corporate activities on societal happiness. Drawing on advances in psychological theory and research, we provide a holistic conceptualization of happiness, which includes objective, subjective, hedonic, and eudaimonic dimensions of happiness. We offer an integrative conceptual framework, which includes the macro‐to‐micro and micro‐to‐macro pathways through which corporations directly and indirectly impact upon societal happiness. Finally, we consider implications of happiness research for the intersections of business and society.
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    Contemplative Interventions and Employee Distress: A Meta‐Analysis
    Slemp, G ; Jach, H ; Chia, A ; Loton, D ; Kern, M (Wiley, 2019)
    Mindfulness, meditation, and other practices that form contemplative interventions are increasingly offered in workplaces to support employee mental health. Studies have reported benefits across various populations, yet researchers have expressed concerns that adoption of such interventions has outpaced scientific evidence. We reappraise the extant literature by meta‐analytically testing the efficacy of contemplative interventions in reducing psychological distress in employees (meta‐analyzed set: k = 119; N = 6,044). Complementing other reviews, we also examine a range of moderators and the impact of biases that could artificially inflate effect sizes. Results suggested interventions were generally effective in reducing employee distress, yielding small to moderate effects that were sustained at last follow‐up. Effects were moderated by the type of contemplative intervention offered and the type of control group utilized. We also found evidence of publication bias, which is likely inflating estimated effects. Uncontrolled single sample studies were more affected by bias than large or randomized controlled trial studies. Adjustments for publication bias lowered overall effects. Overall, our review supports the effectiveness of contemplative interventions in reducing employee distress, but there is a need for proactive strategies to mitigate artificially inflated effect sizes and thus avoid the misapplication of contemplative interventions in work settings.