• Factors associated with older adult volunteers' organizational withdrawl: Testing a model of volunteer behavior

      Cohen-Callow, Amy; Hopkins, Karen M., 1954- (2008)
      Current policies and practices focus on civic engagement, specifically volunteering, as a key activity to promote older adults' resilience and enhance social workers' ability to meet client needs. Older adults' wisdom, life skills and knowledge contribute to efforts to improve society while the benefits of volunteering to older adults are well documented. Yet, benefits are dependent on an agency's ability to sustain volunteer activities despite institutional barriers to engaging volunteers (Morrow-Howell et al., 2003). The primary purpose of this study was to test the Model of Sustained Volunteerism (Penner, 2001) which postulated that individual and organizational factors have direct effects on work and job withdrawal, while volunteers' affective response to the organization (i.e. job satisfaction, organizational commitment) and volunteer role identity play a mediating role. Additional study objectives were: (1) to assess the psychological climate scale (Brown & Leigh, 1996) to measure volunteers' perceptions of the organizational environment, and; (2) to assess the organizational withdrawal scale (Laczo & Hanisch, 1999) as an alternative to single item measure traditionally used in the volunteer retention and turnover literature. A cross-sectional research design was used. A mailed survey was sent to 948 randomly selected healthcare volunteers 55 and older active in New York City. The final response rate was 46% (n = 436). Structural equation modeling (SEM) path analysis indicated that individual variables were highly correlated and were not strongly related to work and job withdrawal, which may help explain why there are mixed results in the literature regarding individual variables' relationship to volunteer behavior. Additionally, perception of the organizational environment was both directly and indirectly related to work and job withdrawal. Volunteers with more positive perceptions of the organizational environment reported greater volunteer job satisfaction, higher organizational commitment, stronger volunteer identity and lower levels of work and job withdrawal. This study provides evidence of the strong association between an organization's environment and volunteer behaviors. These results have implications for social work educators, human service managers, and policy makers interested in ensuring agency readiness for the growing older adult volunteer pool by highlighting the importance of strengthening organizations' capacity to sustain volunteer activities.
    • Leadership that leads to innovation in nonprofit human service organizations

      Pierson, Joanna Louise; Wenocur, Stanley, 1938- (1994)
      Administrators of nonprofit, human service organizations often discuss the need for new services. Knowledge about how to create this change is often a problem. Most of the literature on innovation is written about for-profit businesses. This research examines how nonprofits differ in the way they create innovation, the impact of leaders, and the traits of leaders that help create innovative services. This study utilizes a qualitative methodology, grounded theory, to develop themes that explain how this innovation occurs. The study was of seven human service agencies in Maryland that had innovative services such as: an adolescent fathers program, recycling of surplus building materials for use by low income people, and an urban literacy services model. Interviews and participant observations were used to conduct the research. The organizations studied fit into two categories, those with breakthrough innovations that transformed the agency and those with significant innovations that were ground breaking in nature but did not transform the entire organization's services. The study did find a difference between innovation here and in the business sector. For the majority of agencies in the study, the reason for innovation was to fulfill a vision of creating a better world for the people they served. A smaller group of the organizations acted based on the entrepreneurial "vision" of positioning the agency more effectively financially. Leadership was found to be an important factor in creating innovative services. The executive directors of the innovative organizations had certain traits: macro perspective, makes connections between ideas, looks ahead to the future, compassion for people, works very hard, action oriented, risk taker, persistence, creative or appreciates creativity, flexibility, respects staff and can give up power, sense of humor, and has strong networks outside of the organization. In addition, the traits of the executive director that increased the level of innovativeness were: level of energy and enthusiasm, ability to inspire others, and ability to translate the big picture into a vision and to then translate this into structures to ensure that changes happened. Management styles and gender of the directors were not related to creating innovative services by the organizations.
    • The relationship between transformational leadership and organizational change: An exploratory study of grassroots social service agencies

      Fisher, Elizabeth A.; Hopkins, Karen M., 1954- (2006)
      Social service organizations are continually called upon to modify and shift with the trends of the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. This continual process of change forces organizations to have considerable capacity to grow and develop, often called organizational capacity. In the business sector, considerable attention and research has focused on the role of leaders in managing organizational change and growth in capacity. In particular, the transformational nature of successful leaders has been studied. This study draws on these findings in order to begin to examine whether transformational leadership is also effective for managing change in small, grassroots organizations. Twenty-three organizations were included in the final analysis. Approximately half of the organizations were secular and half were faith-based. The independent variables included transformational and transactional leadership qualities, measured in a cross-sectional survey through the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) Form 5X, and the dependent variable was perceived change in organizational capacity, as measured through secondary data from a pre/post measure. ANOVAs were performed to examine the role of leadership qualities in organizational capacity building efforts. Qualitative data was collected through interviews with organizational members and other stakeholders and a review of case notes. Two organizations are presented as case studies in order to compare the qualities of their leaders with models of transformational leadership. There were no statistically significant relationships between either transformational leadership or transactional leadership and perceived change in organizational capacity. However, the organizational leaders demonstrated high levels of transformational leadership and low levels of transactional leadership, a finding consistent with successful leaders in past studies. The case studies illustrate two leaders who were transformational, yet one of the organizations was more successful in making positive changes. The implications are discussed in terms of organizational structure and the nature of grassroots organizations. The strengths of the study include a mixed-method approach and emphasis on the entire organization as the unit of analysis.