Organizational Factors Affecting Volunteers: A Literature Review on Volunteer Coordination

Studer, Sibylle ; von Schnurbein, Georg

In: VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 2013, vol. 24, no. 2, p. 403-440

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    While volunteer literature presents diverse insights into the motives, personal dispositions, and sociodemographic characteristics of volunteers, researches comparatively seldom focus on the incentives and organizational context affecting volunteers. This review aims to shed light on the organizational factors affecting volunteers collectively and to discuss the coordination of volunteers. Systematic research of the literature revealed 386 publications that are relevant to volunteer coordination. Their abstracts were analyzed in a process of open and selective coding, which led to the identification of three main clusters. This literature review produced the following propositions: it is argued that the practices and instruments of volunteer management (Cluster 1), and, even more strongly, the organizational attitudes towards volunteers as well as the organizations' embedded values (Cluster 2), co-determined by social processes (integration and production of meaning), are crucial factors affecting volunteers. The review also deals with structural features that limit the action space of volunteers and volunteer coordination (Cluster 3). It concludes by discussing the limitations present in the current volunteer research and provides implications for future research endeavors. Thus, this piece of work presents a holistic view on volunteer coordination and theory building by carefully synthesizing information about the organizational context of volunteering from different disciplines and research traditions, resulting in different intervention logics, and by integrating these data in an analytical framework