University of Oulu

The connection between cultural background and students’ motivation to volunteer

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Author: Ivanova, Mihaela1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
Pages: 51
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : M. Ivanova, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-12-18
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Lehtomäki, Elina
Reviewer: Jokikokko, Katri
Lehtomäki, Elina


This thesis explores the volunteer motivations of five student volunteers at the student organisation Erasmus Student Network Oulu (ESN). The thesis focuses on the participants’ cultural background and investigates if and how it influenced their motivation. The effects of volunteer work on the participants and the challenges they faced are also discussed. Theory on volunteer motivation and culture has been utilised. Concepts such as altruism, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, culture and cultural values are discussed.

Five participants of varying backgrounds were chosen for the research and semi-structured interviews were conducted. Phenomenology was chosen as the appropriate methodology to analyse the data, as it allowed for an in-depth analysis of the students’ experiences. The themes that emerged from the analysis were: personal and professional development, moral ideology, social connections and community, social norm and challenges. The theory of planned behaviour was used to explain the findings in terms of attitude, social norm and perceived behavioural control.

The findings gave insight into the world of the student volunteers and valuable information about their motivations to volunteer was uncovered. It was discovered that the participants’ personal attitude towards volunteering and their eagerness for personal and professional development, as well as for social interactions were the strongest motivating factors for them. The findings led to the conclusion that culture did play a role in the participants’ motivation to volunteer, where culture should be understood not only within territorial borders but also within social groups.

It was discovered that motivation is a multifaceted human phenomenon with different people being motivated by different factors. However, it could be argued that culture had influence on the participants’ motivation to volunteer. The information obtained from the research is relevant because it sheds light on the student volunteers’ motivations and challenges and can be used by volunteer organisations and education specialists.

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Copyright information: © Mihaela Ivanova, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.