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An exploratory study of management practice in voluntary organisations

Grindley, Geraldine M (1991) An exploratory study of management practice in voluntary organisations. Master of Science thesis, Dublin City University.

There is a growing interest in the role of the non-profit sector in the world economy. Voluntary endeavour in Ireland has had a long tradition and today makes a significant contribution to the provision of social services. Voluntary action began as philanthropy, but with the advent of sociological and psychological research, a more professional approach developed. Within the last twenty years, the sector has begun to look at ways of increasing its effectiveness and has turned to business management theories and practice. Our study has its origins in that interest. It is a qualitative study which explores the functioning of a major Irish voluntary organisation from the point of view of classical management theory. We found that m the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, there was little evidence of strategic planning and that it operated reactively rather than proactively. Contrary to claims made by many writers,insecurity of funding did not constitute a major planning constraint but it seemed that the attitudes of members to voluntary work and professionalism did. These same attitudes had considerable impact on the organisational character of the Society. As a service agency the Society experiences some difficulty in recruiting members and in keeping them. We suggest that these problems are largely related to inadequate recruitment, selection and training practices in the organisation and that they could be solved by adopting a modified form of staffing practices used in business. It was in the area of leadership that we found the most striking difference between a voluntary enterprise and a commercial one. This highlighted the existence of a special type of contract between managers and volunteer staff. Controlling is a difficult function m the voluntary sector and m the Society. It is inevitable that where there is little planning, control will be difficult, but we suggest that this is another area affected by the members attitudes and the organisation's culture. Apart from the findings directly related to the classical management functions, we also found that the position of paid staff in the organisation was quite different from that of volunteer workers; that there was an interesting question about the transfer of skills from paid employment to voluntary work; and that the approach of the Society to the elimination of poverty was one which accepted a functional view of poverty. In our final chapter, we suggest that voluntary organisations differ from business in several significant ways and this must be taken into account when looking at management theories. However, we consider that they can successfully apply the wisdom, insights and knowledge gained from research into management in the business sector to enhance the functioning of what are essentially value-based, altruistic and idealistic organisations.
Item Type:Thesis (Master of Science)
Date of Award:1991
Supervisor(s):Murray, W.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Ireland.; Voluntary organisations; Business management practice; Voluntary sector
Subjects:Business > Management
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > DCU Business School
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. View License
ID Code:18790
Deposited On:30 Jul 2013 15:08 by Celine Campbell . Last Modified 30 Jul 2013 15:08

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