Sustainable Behaviour at Work: How Message Framing Encourages Employees to Choose Electric Vehicles

Leonie Decrinis*, Wolfgang Freibichler, Micha Kaiser, Cass R. Sunstein, Lucia A. Reisch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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This paper explores the application of message framing as a management practice to promote change in employee behaviour for corporate sustainability. We conduct a field experiment in a German automotive company to test the effects of three different frames (emotional, normative and gain) on pro-environmental actions in relation to electric vehicle choices of 170 employees. The frames are applied via two communication channels: first, via emails to remind employees about ordering a new car and second, via pop-up notifications appearing in the online system where employees complete their orders. We find that the interventions applied in emails, but not in pop-up notifications, have significant positive effects on electric vehicle adoption. Yet, the durability of the effects is limited. Overall, gain framing in the form of cost saving information has the longest and most powerful impact on electric car choices. Our findings have implications for workplaces where employees might not yet possess strong pro-environmental beliefs, showing that employee sustainable behaviour can be enhanced by emphasising complementary gain motives.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)5650-5668
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Published online: 12 May 2023.


  • Message framing
  • Nudging
  • Corporate sustainability
  • Employee sustainable behaviour
  • Workplace interventions
  • Electric vehicles

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