Making a big deal out of it: Understanding volunteer management through applying psychological contract theory
Delaney, Shaun (2014)


The demands on volunteer-involving organisations are increasing – volunteers are expecting to give the gift of time in new, exciting and diverse ways. Mainstream volunteer management (VM) no longer seems adequate in meeting the range of challenges this presents.

The focus of this research was to explore how psychological contract (PC) theory can be applied to UK VM to meet this need. The study was based on a review of the PC literature pertinent to both HRM and VM, coupled with collecting data from 25 senior volunteer management practitioners.

This study concludes that the assumptions underlying PC theory are useful in both understanding and managing volunteering relationships. The explorative approach identified key differences between PCs in paid workers and volunteers. This research indicates a need for further exploration of those differences – particularly the notions of investment and values. This study also identifies the potential for practical VM guidance.


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