The Transformed Identity of a Banking Corporation’s Employees, 1960s–1980s

The current paper discusses one aspect of corporate social responsibility—employee community volunteering—as implemented at an Israeli banking corporation. The literature on corporate social responsibility as a feature of global capitalism has largely ignored the history of corporate philanthropy and its relation to the current model of social responsibility. Moreover, to date, no studies have addressed the relationship between models of corporate social responsibility, on the one hand, and management approaches, on the other. In this historical-ethnographic study we examine a case in which, we argue, normative management models and advanced marketing approaches combined to shape new conceptions and practices of employee volunteering. We examine how the process evolved over the course of three marketing campaigns initiated by the bank’s management between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. In the early 1960s, the models in question helped refashion the employees’ identity as service providers “empathic” towards clients. By the late 1970s, their identity was transformed once again, this time to incorporate a “humane” orientation towards the “community.” In the process—the results of which are still felt today—the employees became the carriers and disseminators of an organizational culture which emphasized values of philanthropy and social commitment.


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