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Australian volunteers in the health sector: antecedents to volunteers' intention to leave

van Loggerenberg, Dawn Valerie (2008) Australian volunteers in the health sector: antecedents to volunteers' intention to leave. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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This study focused on the Australian health sector, examining the factors that influence the intention of volunteers to leave their employing organizations. There is a general scarcity of research concerning volunteer work, and understanding health sector volunteers is particularly important due to the significance of their contribution in Australia. In exploring volunteer work, this study has utilized a variant of the Mathieu and Zajac (1990) model of organizational commitment. In the health sector much of the work performed by volunteers is very similar to that done by paid employees. In addition, in the Australian health sector volunteers and paid employees often work alongside one another.

The methodology integrated quantitative and qualitative data in order to generate a broad understanding of the factors influencing volunteer intention to leave an organization. Using the Mathieu and Zajac model variant, a hypothesis was developed and investigated. Quantitative data was gathered through the Job Characteristics Index (JCI), General Job Satisfaction Survey, and Organizational Commitment Questionnaire (OCQ). In light of the quantitative findings not supporting the initial hypothesis of job characteristics being antecedent to intention to leave as mediated by job satisfaction and organizational commitment, a grounded theory approach was used to explore the antecedent factors. Qualitative data was gathered through open-ended questions in the survey and interviews.

The following relationships were discovered and explored: motivation and job characteristics impacted upon the meaningfulness of volunteer work and upon organizational commitment, which had a covarying relationship with job satisfaction. The job characteristics of task identity, feedback and friendship opportunities were correlated with organizational commitment. In essence, the factors of motivation (recognized as altruism) and meaningfulness of work that volunteers do in the Australian health sector determine how the job characteristics and other factors will influence the decision to leave an organization.

The study discusses key findings and presents recommendations for relating to effective management of volunteers in the health sector. As a secondary outcome, the study demonstrates the value of judiciously using models and measures normally associated with paid employment in understanding volunteer activity. It is anticipated that these outcomes will inform future research within the volunteer sector.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Supervisor(s): Bennett, Robert and Sully, Max
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