Hintere Außenansicht des D2 Gebäudes

Networks of volunteers and paid staff

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This project is an international collaboration between researchers from the WU Vienna University of Economics and Business (Jurgen Willems), the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Sarah Dury) and Antwerp University (Peter Raeymaeckers). It is funded in the WEAVE program with two funding partners: FWOVlaanderen  (Belgium) and the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) [I 6320].

Public and nonprofit organizations are increasingly relying on social networks of volunteers and paid staff for social service delivery. That means that volunteers and paid staff collaborate on a daily basis to provide public services. For these collaborations, they rely on personal connections with other volunteers and paid staff. The combinations of all these personal connections form a social network between all collaborators involved. This social network is relevant to reach more effective public services. In this project, we analyze how different types of networks and different positions in those networks are relevant in steering the effectiveness of the public services.

We rely on social network analysis to advance theoretical and practical knowledge on (1) the structure of networks as well as the positions in networks of volunteers and paid staff, and (2) how volunteers and paid staff use their social networks to reach more effective social services. Our project has a strong empirical component. Given the nature of our research questions, we apply quantitative and qualitative research methods, including interviews, social network analysis, Q-sorting interviews, and conjoint experiments. The planned research will contribute –through the interdisciplinary collaboration of scholars involved in this project– to the literature on social networks, social work, and volunteer management.

Earlier studies that led to the elaboration of the project proposal

  • Raeymaeckers, P., Vermeiren, C., Noel, C., Van Puyvelde, S. & Willems, J. 2020. The Governance of Public-Nonprofit Service Networks: a Comparison Between three Types of Governance Roles. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. 32: 1037–1048: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-017-9920-7

  • Willems, J., Andersson, F.O., Jegers, M., & Renz, D. O. 2017. A coalition perspective on nonprofit governance quality: Analyzing dimensions of influence in an exploratory comparative case analysis. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. 28(4): 1422–1447. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-016-9683-6 

  • Willems, J., & Dury, S. 2017. Reasons for not volunteering: Overcoming boundaries to attract volunteers. Service Industries Journal. 37 (11–12): 726–745 (Special issue: Nonprofit Services - Part 1) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02642069.2017.1318381

  • Willems, J., Van Puyvelde, S., Jegers, M., Vantilborgh, T., Bidee, J., & Pepermans, R. 2015. Exploring board interlocking behavior between nonprofit organizations. Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics. 86(1): 73–88. (Special issue: Governance of non-profit and non-governmental organizations - Within and between organization analysis) DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/apce.12067 

  • Willems, J. & Walk, M. 2013. Assigning volunteer tasks: The relation between task preferences and functional motives of youth volunteers. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(6): 1030–1040. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.03.010