Date of Award

11-2017

Embargo Period

1-2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

School

Business

Faculty

Education, Business & Science

First Advisor

Dr Peter Morey

Second Advisor

Dr Peter Beamish

ANZSRC / FoR Code

150304 Entrepreneurship, 150310 Organisation and Management Theory, 150312 Organisational Planning and Management, 150399 Business and Management not elsewhere classified, 220405 Religion and Society

Abstract

The significant impact of an ageing population on civic services globally highlights the pivotal role of volunteers, highly represented in non-profit organizations, in meeting the growing needs of communities of the future. As governments look to non-profit organizations to assume responsibility for community needs, volunteers become increasingly critical to the success of this service delivery. Consequently, their recruitment and retention becomes crucial for management practice within the third sector. Limited understanding of areas of volunteer management practice often exacerbates the loss of volunteers. In addition, more traditional non-profit models are finding it increasingly challenging to survive in the complexity of a post secular environment. The quest to increase understanding of this phenomenon thus becomes imperative. The literature suggests that a tendency to measure volunteer motivation by survey items alone has the potential to restrain a more holistic understanding of the volunteering process. This study, therefore, adopts a mixed methods approach with a view to increasing an integrated understanding of the factors that impact the recruitment, experience and retention of volunteers. Participants were drawn from a hybrid faith-based organization in NSW, Australia. As a specific context this organization represented an innovative, dynamic and under-examined environment which incorporated tradition as a foundational strength with an innovative, flexible emerging model spanning both church-related and for profit business ventures under a single management strategy. Within this context, this study initially adopted a functional approach to examine the applicability of the Volunteer Functions Inventory (Clary et al., 1998) to the motivations of this sample of faith-based volunteers. This resulted in the development of a new measure relating to the initial motivations of faith-based volunteers (Faith-based Volunteer Motivation scale) which identified four primary initial motivating functions for volunteering in this context: values, enrichment, social and career. Further, two experiential outcomes of volunteering were examined using Structured Equation Modelling analyses. These results suggested complex direct and indirect pathways connecting volunteer experience with retention. The incorporation of the voice of the volunteer, accessed through semi-structured interviews, led to the emergence of seven principal themes which, in conjunction with the findings from the survey data, converged to suggest a meta-inference spanning both components of the research. Merged results from the convergent parallel design adopted, proposed a theoretical model with recommendations for enhancing effective faith-based volunteering management practice. Findings proposed that faith-based volunteers are more likely to be recruited, express satisfaction with the experience and indicate intention to remain if they stay connected to the volunteering process through an individualized and interrelated set of connecting pathways: Firstly, perpetuated connection with divine and meaningful human relationships and mission congruence. Secondly, continued perception of a supportive leadership style which fostered a structured autonomous environment encouraging growth and volition. Further, satisfaction with volunteering experience increased when volunteers experienced a sense of being valued incorporating both elements of acknowledgement and affirmation. The role of language and metaphor emerged as important underpinning elements of connection in all stages of the volunteering process. Overall results add fresh insights to foster effective faith-based volunteering management practice.

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Used by permission: the author

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