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This study aims to offer insights into the contextual and situational variables that influence volunteering choices.
An analysis of European and US business students’ volunteering experiences is performed. Cross-cultural and experiential outcomes are compared and contrasted at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
A majority of volunteering decisions are made without thoughtful reflection, based on convenience in an effort to reduce personal hardship, and influenced heavily by institutional and organizational structures.
These results call into question the notion that volunteering-related choices are deeply personal, purposeful and/or reflective decisions. Moreover, the findings begin to explain why volunteerism continues to be dogged by labels such as “ineffective”, “inefficient” or “lacking in value” when benchmarked against expectations.