Dr. Doyle Lucas of Anderson University’s Falls School of Business (FSB) recently presented at the Christian Business Faculty Association conference on the findings of a three-year research project. The research explored what aspects of sustainability attract Millennials to particular companies.
The research project was done in conjunction with two former FSB students in the Doctor of Business Administration program, Dr. David Hagenbuch of Messiah College, who led the research project, and Dr. Steven Little of Lipscomb University.
According to Lucas’ anecdotal research on Millennials, those born from 1982-1995 show that they are attracted to companies that are good stewards of the environment and take sustainability and social responsibility seriously. He and his colleagues wanted to discover whether this was true and to answer these questions: 1) Does it matter to students how a firm engages in social responsibility, and 2) Will they find some companies more attractive than others?
In their research, they looked at three ways by which companies demonstrated social responsibility: donations (whether firms give money or products to social causes), volunteerism (whether firms allow employees to take off work, with pay, to serve nonprofit organizations), and operational integration (whether firms structure core business processes to simultaneously achieve both their own objectives and societal goals).
The researchers hypothesized that students would be most attracted to firms that prioritized integrating sustainability practices in how they did business. Next, students would be attracted to companies that emphasized volunteerism, and lastly firms that donated money to causes.
Through their research, Lucas and his colleagues discovered that students favored companies that advocated volunteerism, next to employees that donated money, and lastly those that integrated sustainability practices into their day-to-day business process.
The researchers were surprised by the findings. Though the data did not support their original hypothesis, Lucas is not discouraged by it. For now, he and his associates are content to finish the final phase of their research. They have not yet decided if they will do a follow-up study.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology. Falls School of Business is one of Anderson University’s largest academic departments offering eight undergraduate majors as well as MBA and DBA programs. The school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and is a member of the Christian Business Faculty Association (CBFA).