Research-to-Practice Editor Steven Howlett re-visits a paper by Colin Rochester published in Voluntary Action, the journal of the Institute for Volunteering Research in 1999, about the management implications for volunteer coordination based on the organisational setting in which it takes place. Rochester observed that organisational context will impact upon how volunteering is managed, but this context is not very well addressed in the research literature and, as a result, best practice writing often gives minimal advice about how practice can vary from organisation to organisation.
The paper argues that there have been two implicit assumptions in the literature which may explain why the organisational context of volunteering has received less attention. The first is that what is being measured and described as volunteering is seen to be essentially the same activity regardless of where it happens. Second is the tendency to view volunteering as part of the non-profit sector, where it is seen as primarily unpaid workers contributing to the goals of the organisation; the result of this is a dominance management language emphasising the ‘workplace model’ of management.
Note: Thanks to the generous permission of the Institute for Volunteering Research, the full text of the original study is provided as a PDF accompanying this review.