Employing the houseless as corporate social responsibility

Nicholas A. Smith, Larry R. Martinez, Shi (Tracy) Xu, Anna Mattila, Lisa Yixing Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Many hospitality organizations see the benefits of engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR), which can take many forms. This study aims to examine one relatively unique form of CSR: hiring individuals experiencing houselessness. This research aimed to investigate the impact of hiring individuals experiencing houselessness on customers’ behavioral intentions, attitudes toward an organization and perceptions of CSR actions. Design/methodology/approach: Across two experiments, this study investigated the impact of employing individuals experiencing houselessness on customers’ perceptions of the employee and organization using organizational legitimacy theory. Findings: Results demonstrate that employees known to be houseless elicited more positive employee and organizational perceptions from the customers, mediated by CSR perceptions. In addition, the gender of the employees or the quality of the organization did not impact these findings. Practical implications: Hospitality and tourism organizations should consider using available resources or tax benefits to make a deliberate effort to employ those experiencing houselessness. Originality/value: Using organizational legitimacy theory, this study examines CSR perceptions as a potential explanatory mechanism between houselessness and customers’ reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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