Chelsea Willness




Haskayne School of Business, Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources [OBHR]

Future Fund Fellow in Behavioural Science for Sustainability

Haskayne School of Business

Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology

University of Calgary

Contact information

Web presence

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Lauren Steeves
Senior Marketing and Communications Strategist

Phone: (403) 220-6153




PhD, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, University of Calgary,

MSc, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, University of Calgary,

BA Hon, Psychology, University of Saskatchewan,

ICD.D (national Board Director certification), Institute for Corporate Directors & Rotman School of Management,


Dr. Willness's research applies behavioural science principles, theories, and methods to address challenges related to sustainability, such as planetary health and climate change, community and social sustainability, and responsible governance. For example, she studies how individuals and groups perceive, value, and interact with environmental resources and social issues, including how behavioural science can inform effective policy design, decision making, behavioural change, and organizational practices toward achieving sustainability goals. 

Dr. Willness has published her work in top journals and book chapters, and presented to academic and professional audiences locally, nationally, and internationally. She has held two national research grants (SSHRC) for her research examining how stakeholders like job seekers, employees, and consumers respond to organizations' CSR practices and why these efforts sometimes backfire (e.g., perceptions of authenticity versus greenwashing). She is currently a member of a $2.5M SSHRC international research partnership focusing on monitoring and evaluating climate communication and education (MECCE). 

From 2020 – 2022, Dr. Willness served as University Secretary & Chief Governance Officer for the University of Saskatchewan. For more than a decade, she has been actively involved in governance initiatives in the not-for-profit sector. She has consulted for a wide variety of organizations in areas such as CSR, governance, strategy, and stakeholder engagement. She holds the national ICD.D designation, as well as certificates in climate governance and board oversight of climate change.

Chelsea is a passionate champion of community-engaged scholarship and teaching. She received University, college, and international teaching awards for this work while at USask. She was also awarded an Innovation in Teaching Award from the Academy of Management for her design and implementation of HR courses that integrate community-based experiential learning.

Highlights of Dr. Willness's research areas and applied expertise:

  • Environmental and social sustainability
  • Corporate social responsibility, particularly CSR authenticity
  • Non-profit, corporate, and post-secondary governance
  • Climate risk and organizations/boards/leadership
  • Attracting, selecting, and retaining talent
  • Organizational reputation and image
  • Community partnerships and stakeholder engagement
  • Evidence-based decision making processes
  • Strategic planning
  • Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology


Areas of Research

Environmental and social sustainability; Governance; Climate risk; Organizational reputation; CSR authenticity

Participation in university strategic initiatives


  • Publication list is a representative selection only. Please see Google Scholar for more information.
  • Predisposed, exposed, or both? How prosocial motivation and CSR education are related to prospective employees’ desire for social impact in work (forthcoming). Glavas, A., Hahn, T., Jones, D. A., & Willness, C.R. Business & Society. (2023)
  • How Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation can enhance community-engaged teaching and learning. Willness, C.R., Boakye-Danquah, J., & Nichols, D. Academy of Management Learning & Education. 112-131. (2023)
  • Corporate social responsibility at the individual level of analysis: Research findings that inform responsible management “in the wild”. Willness, C.R., Jones, D.A., Strah, N., & Rupp, D. In O. Laasch, D. Jamali, R. E. Freeman, & R. Suddaby (Eds). Research Handbook of Responsible Management. (2020)
  • Employee (dis)engagement in corporate social responsibility. Glavas, A., & Willness, C.R. In D. Haski-Leventhal, L. Roza, & S. Brammer (Eds). Employee Engagement in Corporate Social Responsibility. (2020)
  • When CSR backfires: Understanding stakeholders’ negative responses to corporate social responsibility. Willness, C.R. In A. McWilliams, D.E. Rupp, D.S. Siegel, G. Stahl, & D.A. Waldman, Eds. The Oxford Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility: Psychological and Organizational Perspectives. (2019)
  • Community-based partnership for capacity building: Stakeholder engagement through governance and leadership. Willness, C.R. In J. Allen & R. Reiter-Palmon, Eds. The Cambridge Handbook of Organizational Community Engagement and Outreach. (2019)
  • Human resource management practices and voluntary turnover: A study of internal workforce and external labor market contingencies. Schmidt, J.A., Willness, C.R., Jones, D.A., & Bourdage, J. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 571-594. (2018)
  • Strategic HR system differentiation between jobs: The effects on firm performance and employee outcomes. Schmidt, J.A., Pohler, D.M., & Willness, C.R. Human Resource Management. 65-81. (2018)
  • When corporate social responsibility (CSR) meets organizational psychology: New frontiers in micro-CSR research, and fulfilling a quid pro quo through multilevel insights. Jones, D.A., Willness, C.R., & Glavas, A. Frontiers in Psychology. (2017)
  • Illuminating the signals job seekers receive from an employer’s community involvement and environmental sustainability practices: Insights into why most job seekers are attracted, others are indifferent, and a few are repelled. Jones, D.A., Willness, C.R., & Heller, K.W. Frontiers in Psychology. 1-16.. (2016)
  • Why are job seekers attracted by corporate social performance? Experimental and field tests of three signal-based mechanisms. Jones, D.A., Willness, C.R., & Madey, S. Academy of Management Journal. 383-404. (2014)
  • Corporate environmental sustainability and employee recruitment: Leveraging “green” business practices to attract talent. Willness, C.R., & Jones, D.A. In A. H. Huffman & S. R. Klein (Eds.), Green Organizations: Driving Change with I-O Psychology. (2013)
  • Corporate social responsibility, organizational reputation, and recruitment. Jones, D.A., & Willness, C.R. In K. Y. T. Yu & D. Cable (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Recruitment. (2013)