Volunteer and visitor interaction in the UK heritage sector : motives and benefits
This thesis examines the motivation of volunteers through a study of front-of-house volunteers in museums and heritage visitor attractions in the UK. The heritage sector proved an appropriate population for the study sample due to the wide involvement of volunteers. A review of the literature found that research on volunteering had developed along two paradigms: the economic model, which views volunteers as unpaid workers; and the leisure model, which considers volunteering as a leisure activity. Within the heritage sector, the economic model was found to dominate. The study adopted a case study methodology in order to investigate the contexts within which volunteers are motivated. However, a major consideration of the research was to maximise the external validity of the study and 222 volunteers were interviewed across ten case studies. The findings of this thesis show that volunteers consider their activity to be a leisure activity, although this does not conflict with the introduction of professional volunteer management procedures. Volunteer motivation was found to change with length of service. Initially volunteers were motivated by intrinsic motives, in particular subject interest, while extrinsic motives, particularly social opportunities motivated them to continue to volunteer. An Interaction Model of Volunteer Motivation was proposed as a means of understanding and identifying the role of social opportunities in motivating volunteers. In addition, volunteers within the heritage sector are typically older, retired individuals and the act of retirement was found to have a significant impact on their decision to volunteer. The significance volunteers attributed to their encounters with visitors reinforced the importance of social interaction in motivating front-of-house volunteers. Three models of encounters were proposed: the service encounter, the host-guest encounter and peer tutoring. The volunteer-visitor encounter was found to be a hybrid of the three models,with volunteers gammg enjoyable social interaction and visitors learning from the encounter.