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Journal articles (2019), Journal of Business Ethics, 160 (3), pp. 693–712

What Keeps Corporate Volunteers Engaged: Extending the Volunteer Work Design Model with Self-determination Theory Insights

VAN SCHIE S., GAUTIER Arthur , PACHE Anne-Claire , GÜNTER S. T.

Despite enthusiastic claims around the benefits of corporate volunteering (CV) for the workplace and its widespread implementation, the impact of such programs for beneficiaries and non-profit organizations remains uncertain, particularly when employees’ participation is one-off. Previous research suggests that the benefits of CV for employees, businesses, and society are more likely to occur if employees internalize a volunteer identity—that is, if being a volunteer becomes a part of their self. This leads them to sustain their participation in CV over time, maximizing CV’s positive effects on all stakeholders. This study explores the factors explaining why employees internalize a volunteer identity in a corporate context. We do so by empirically testing Grant’s (Acad Manag Rev 37(4):589-615, 2012) volunteer work design (VWD) theoretical model with a sample of 619 employees involved in CV programs, and by comparing its relevance with an alternative, extended model relying on insights from self-determination theory (SDT). Whereas we find only partial and weak empirical support for the VWD model, our SDT-extended model is supported empirically. These results show that the quality of motivation that employees experience while volunteering plays a more important role than repeated participation, as it illuminates the process of how factors such as the quality of the projects, organizational support for CV, as well as the causes targeted affect the internalization of a volunteer identity. In particular, we show that employees are more likely to internalize a volunteer identity if they can choose what cause to engage for and if they feel that the projects they participate in are meaningful. Surprisingly, we also show that a prestigious cause as well as recognition and managerial support foster a controlled form of motivation for employees, which are then unlikely to internalize a volunteer identity. In doing so, we contribute to a better understanding of how CV can have lasting benefits for both business and society, and provide business leaders with actionable insights about how to design impactful CV programs. Link to the article

VAN SCHIE, S., GAUTIER, A., PACHE, A.C. and GÜNTER, S.T. (2019). What Keeps Corporate Volunteers Engaged: Extending the Volunteer Work Design Model with Self-determination Theory Insights. Journal of Business Ethics, 160(3), pp. 693–712.

Keywords : #Corporate-volunteering, #Internalization, #Self, #determined-motivation, #Volunteer-role-identity