Managing Volunteers in the Non-profit Social Care Sector: Understanding Conflict and Resistance

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This research study investigates, from a managerial perspective, the management of volunteer labour, conflict and resistance. An extensive, three-chapter literature review incorporated volunteering, volunteers, the management of volunteers, and Labour Process Theory (LPT), which provides the academic lens for this investigation, culminated in a conceptual framework being proposed. This framework then underpinned the empirical research study. Critical realism was chosen as the philosophical paradigm, and in order to address the research objectives a programme of primary research was essential, tackled by means of a qualitative enquiry. Primary data was collected during 40 semi-structured interviews with managers of volunteers. The use of semi-structured interviews enabled the participants to reflect on their experiences with volunteers, and to express their feelings, perceptions and insights, in a safe and secure environment. The rich data was analysed using deduction, abduction and retroduction, in keeping with the critical realist approach.
The distinctive approach of applying LPT concepts to the testimony of managers of volunteers, results in original academic contributions which have significance for both an understanding of volunteer management and LPT. This comes from the development of a distinct conceptual framework; providing new insights into the management of volunteer labour by drawing on LPT to conceptualise the management of the volunteer labour process and to illuminate a distinctive structural antagonism that, because of various key features, has the potential to cause conflict and resistance pertaining to volunteer, and which influences how managers of volunteers operate in important ways.
Date of Award9 Nov 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorStephen Williams (Supervisor), Yvonne Rueckert (Supervisor) & Peter Scott (Supervisor)

Cite this