Volunteer overseas development workers: the hero's adventure and personal transformation

Volunteer overseas development workers: the hero's adventure and personal transformation Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide new information about overseas volunteer development workers undertaking projects in underdeveloped countries, specifically, their backgrounds, personalities, values and previous experience, motivations, experiences, learning and “transformation” gained, and possible impact on further career; the degree of fit of experiences to the archetypal “hero's adventure”. Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents a longitudinal study of a cohort of 48 New Zealand volunteers starting work on NZ aid organisation Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) assignments in 2001. This included structured interviews and administration of the NEO‐ PR personality inventory and the Schein Career orientation Inventory pre‐departure and on return and an e‐mail survey halfway through the assignment. Data analysis was largely qualitative using NVivo software. Findings – Volunteers had high levels of openness and agreeableness, and career anchors of dedication to a cause and pure challenge. The majority of volunteers fitted the main characteristics of the “hero's adventure” model, duplicating results for business expatriates by Osland and academic expatriates by Richardson. Key features were motivations of adventure and altruism, descriptions of trials and tribulations during the project, feelings of success, new skill and personal transformations in identity and values. Research limitations/implications – This is a mainly qualitative study of small sample from specific national location. Longer‐term follow‐up needed. Practical implications – The paper provides valuable information for potential volunteers, for aid organisations selecting and supporting them and potential employers of volunteers. Originality/value – Volunteer development work is increasingly common, is undertaken by thousands in third‐world countries, and is a potentially life‐changing experience, but research on it is very limited. This is the first in‐depth study, where findings paint a vivid picture of its nature and effects on the individual. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Career Development International Emerald Publishing

Volunteer overseas development workers: the hero's adventure and personal transformation

Career Development International, Volume 11 (4): 17 – Jun 1, 2006

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
1362-0436
D.O.I.
10.1108/13620430610672522
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide new information about overseas volunteer development workers undertaking projects in underdeveloped countries, specifically, their backgrounds, personalities, values and previous experience, motivations, experiences, learning and “transformation” gained, and possible impact on further career; the degree of fit of experiences to the archetypal “hero's adventure”. Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents a longitudinal study of a cohort of 48 New Zealand volunteers starting work on NZ aid organisation Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) assignments in 2001. This included structured interviews and administration of the NEO‐ PR personality inventory and the Schein Career orientation Inventory pre‐departure and on return and an e‐mail survey halfway through the assignment. Data analysis was largely qualitative using NVivo software. Findings – Volunteers had high levels of openness and agreeableness, and career anchors of dedication to a cause and pure challenge. The majority of volunteers fitted the main characteristics of the “hero's adventure” model, duplicating results for business expatriates by Osland and academic expatriates by Richardson. Key features were motivations of adventure and altruism, descriptions of trials and tribulations during the project, feelings of success, new skill and personal transformations in identity and values. Research limitations/implications – This is a mainly qualitative study of small sample from specific national location. Longer‐term follow‐up needed. Practical implications – The paper provides valuable information for potential volunteers, for aid organisations selecting and supporting them and potential employers of volunteers. Originality/value – Volunteer development work is increasingly common, is undertaken by thousands in third‐world countries, and is a potentially life‐changing experience, but research on it is very limited. This is the first in‐depth study, where findings paint a vivid picture of its nature and effects on the individual.

Journal

Career Development InternationalEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 1, 2006

Keywords: Expatriates; Volunteers; Developing countries; New Zealand; Aid agencies; Individual development

References

  • The international assignee: the relative importance of factors perceived to contribute to success
    Arthur, W. Jr; Bennett, W. Jr
  • Psychology of Aid
    Carr, S.C.; McAuliffe, E.; MacLachlan, M.

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