Do we automatically dislike do-gooders?

If you are a CSR, sustainability or corporate citizenship manager, this article might offer an insight into why there is resistance to both your work and general change in your organisation’s culture.

The researchers found that in group tests, many participants did not want to work with unselfish members again, as they felt they ‘raised the bar’ in terms of expectations for their own behaviour. The lead researcher also points to suspicion in the eyes of the group as to the motives of the unselfish actors.

Sound familiar? I’m not a huge fan of the proponents of the selfish gene theory but I can see why some people would choose to think this way. One just has to fight hard to counter it and sell the organisational benefits of unselfishness. This is why financial incentives matter so much in sustainability and corporate responsibility.

(It’s not perhaps quite the same thing, but a friend of mine was told about five years ago, whilst working for a large German company, to stop working too hard as it was making the other workers look bad!)

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