Leisure seeking volunteers in large urban museums: are they committed?

Victoria University
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
To the city and beyond...: Proceedings of the 16th Annual CAUTHE Conference, 2006, pp. 659 - 675
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Within the Australian tourism industry, the prominent use of volunteers occurs in museums and art museums, botanic gardens, zoological parks and festivals and events. Large museums in urban environments, in particular, are heavily reliant on the continuous contribution of a large number of leisure seeking volunteers. These volunteers come from a wide cross section of the community but little is known about their values and commitment. Values are an important construct that offer insights into human belief and behaviour. In the workplace a person's values can influence job satisfaction, turnover and commitment. If museums can understand what volunteers' value in relation to their work then they can place volunteers in situations which will not be at odds with their values. The objective of this paper is to explore how different aspects of work are valued by museum volunteers and the influence these values have on volunteer commitment to the organizations they contribute to. This paper presents results of a study of volunteers at three large museums and art museums in Sydney and Canberra, Australia. Results found that these volunteers place a very high value on the work they do for the institution and their commitment to the institution is a combination of affective and continuance commitment. It also found that volunteer commitment is influenced by Pfeffer (1997) three conditions for commitment; choice, publicness and explicitness. The implications of these findings for volunteer management are discussed.
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