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Work meaning and identity of volunteers A study to explore motivation, work meaning and identities of volunteers in South-India

Pothof, S.J. (2011) Work meaning and identity of volunteers A study to explore motivation, work meaning and identities of volunteers in South-India.

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Abstract:In this study work meaning of individuals involved in volunteering work is explored. Work meaning refers to employees’ understanding of what they do at work as well as the interpreted value, or significance, of what they do. Volunteering work is a type of work that is done out of free will and without remuneration. Work meaning has been investigated in organizations that employ paid employees. This study explores work meaning in a new context: volunteering work in South-India. Research suggests that the organizational experiences of volunteers are often different from the organizational experiences of paid employees. What meanings volunteers attach to their organizational experiences, will be assessed by focusing on how volunteers make sense of their involvement. Following a process-oriented approach on volunteering, initial motivation to volunteer, work experiences and consequences for identity development are the topics taken into account in this study. 37 interviews were conducted with individuals involved in volunteering work. They participated in a variety of organizations. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed by assigning labels. Labels that held comparable meanings were grouped and assigned to codes. Consequently, the codes were ascribed to the three categories which make up the process approach on volunteering. The findings show that volunteering is meaningful work. Compassionate communication forms the core of the volunteers’ job content. The work experiences that volunteers talked about were perceived as highly meaningful. These experiences contribute to ongoing involvement in volunteering. Volunteering involvement has considerable consequences for job meaning, role meaning and self meaning of the individuals in this study. Ultimately, the meaningfulness of volunteering work leads to happiness and satisfaction, which emerged as by-products of engaging in volunteering work. The main implication of the findings in this study is the importance of relational job architecture to foster meaningfulness of volunteering work and to keep volunteers motivated. Future research should also examine work meaning of volunteers acting in different sociocultural settings and should further examine the role of calling and spirituality in volunteering work
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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