‘Everyone rolls up their sleeves and mucks in’’: Exploring volunteers’
motivation and experiences of the motivational climate of a sporting
Justine B. Allen *, Sally Shaw
University of Otago, New Zealand
The contribution of sport event volunteers has been well rehearsed (Cuskelly, Hoye & Auld, 2006) and the continuing
value of this contribution should not be under-estimated. Indeed, there is an increasing need for volunteers as numbers of
Sport Management Review 12 (2009) 79–90
A B S T R A C T
Research examining volunteer motivation and satisfaction has been criticised for the
limited explanation of the cognitive and social processes that may underpin the proposed
relationships among motivation, satisfaction, performance and retention (Costa, C.A.,
Chalip, L., Green, B.C., & Simes, C. (2006). Reconsidering the role of training in event
volunteers’ satisfaction. Sport Management Review, 9(2), 165–182.; Cuskelly, G., Hoye, R., &
Auld, C. (2006). Working with volunteers in sport. Theory and practice. London: Routledge.).
Self-determination theory (SDT) (Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and
self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.; Ryan, R.M., & Deci, E.L. (2000a)
has proven useful in both for- and not-for-profit domains (e.g., Baard, P.P. (1994). A
motivational basis for consulting with not-for-profit organizations: A study of church
growth and participation. Consulting Psychology Journal, 46(3), 19–31.; Deci, E.L., Connell,
J.P., & Ryan, R.M. (1989). Self-determination in a work organisation. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 74(4), 580–590.; Hollembeak, J., & Amorose, A. J. (2005). Percevied coaching
behaviors and college athletes’ intrinsic motivation: A test of self-determination theory.
Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 17(1), 20–36.) and appears particularly suited to
understanding volunteer motivation. Self-determination theory and the facilitation of
intrinsicmotivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68–
78.). Therefore the purpose of this study was to examine sport event volunteers’
motivation and experiences of the motivational climate at a large sport event using selfdetermination
theory. The participants were volunteers at the NZ Master’s Games held
biannually in Dunedin, NZ. They participated in focus group interviews in which their
experiences as volunteers at the event were discussed. In general, the findings support
tenets of self-determination theory. Participants reported intrinsic motivation toward
volunteering but also forms of extrinsic motivation toward some volunteer tasks. With
regard to the motivational climate, volunteers experienced support for their autonomy,
and felt that their competence and sense of relatedness were fostered. These findings
suggest that SDT is a viable framework for examining volunteer motivation.
2009 Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand. Published by
Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
* Corresponding author. School of Physical Education, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand 9013. Tel.: +643 479 7746;
fax: +643 479 8309.
E-mail address: [email protected] (J.B. Allen).
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Sport Management Review
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