Volunteer Motivation in Surf Life Saving: A Theory of Motivation Through Identity

Author: John Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald, John, 2019 Volunteer Motivation in Surf Life Saving: A Theory of Motivation Through Identity, Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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If Not-For-Profit volunteer organisations are to remain viable and relevant into the future, they need to understand, develop and maintain approaches that recognise and satisfy the motivations of volunteers. This study focuses on volunteers' experiences that develop and sustain motivation within one of Australia's largest volunteer organisations - Surf Life Saving. The study provides an understanding of SLS volunteer participation as developing through fives levels of engagement from entry, challenge, authenticity, commitment, to passion. In explaining how the levels develop, it aligns motivation generation with identity construction by way of a duality conceived between active personal agency and enabling organisational structures. The study looks at how volunteer engagement is experienced through a lens of structuration theory. It brings together motivation and identity by establishing a structuration model which conceives SLS as an organisation containing identity construction workspaces set within a community of practice modelled as encompassing, inclusive and enabling. The structuration model demonstrates the power of identity work within identity workspace opportunities in generating member motivation. It finds that motivation in SLS is aligned with identity construction, and that identity construction is strongly linked to SLS organisational structures which encourages, enables and nurtures volunteers' identity journeys. It finds that motivation and identity within SLS are strongly linked, and that SLS structures are critical factors in enabling personal agential identity work. The study reinforces an understanding that both identity development and motivation are context dependent.

Keywords: volunteer motivation, surf life saving, levels of engagement, organisation enablement, personal agency, structuration, identity construction

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Professional Doctorate
Completed: 2019
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Associate Professor Ben Wadham