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Volunteer engagement: conceptual extensions and value-in-context outcomes

Jodie Conduit (School of Marketing, Adelaide Business School, Adelaide, Australia)
Ingo Oswald Karpen (Graduate School of Business and Law, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia) (Department of Marketing, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)
Kieran D. Tierney (School of Economics, Finance and Marketing, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 3 October 2019

Issue publication date: 21 November 2019




The ability to attract and retain volunteers is crucial for not-for-profit organizations, and consequently, the need to understand and manage volunteers’ engagement is paramount. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of five volunteer engagement dimensions (cognitive, affective, behavioral, social and spiritual engagement) on perceived value-in-context, and its subsequent role for volunteer retention. Thus, providing for the first time an understanding of how unique types of value are determined through different facets of volunteer engagement.


To establish the nature and consequences of volunteer engagement, the authors collaborated with an Australian not-for-profit service organization. Using a survey method, the authors studied the organization’s volunteer workforce resulting in 464 usable responses. To capture volunteers’ degree of spiritual engagement, this paper introduces a rigorously developed unidimensional measure.


The results demonstrate the importance of the five engagement dimensions on volunteers’ perceived value-in-context, while highlighting significant effect differences including some counterintuitive consequences. The authors also establish the role of spiritual engagement and demonstrate the impact of value-in-context for volunteer retention.


This research explores the volunteer engagement-retention chain, by empirically studying the role of value-in-context. The authors provide first evidence for the relationship between volunteer engagement and value-in-context, examining the independent yet relative effects of various facets of volunteer engagement. In doing so, the authors offer new insight into the dimensionality of the volunteer engagement construct, broadening its conceptualization to include spiritual engagement as a core constituent. The authors further demonstrate the impact of value-in-context on volunteer retention, helping organizations to better make sense of meaningful volunteer experiences with long-lasting impacts and mutual benefits.



Conduit, J., Karpen, I.O. and Tierney, K.D. (2019), "Volunteer engagement: conceptual extensions and value-in-context outcomes", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 462-487.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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