Counting (On) Volunteers: The Dynamics Shaping the Red Cross Relationship with its Volunteers in the Global South

Breno Elias Valentini

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Volunteering is attracting more attention from researchers. Despite growing interest, most academic work is about volunteering in the Global North, with few researchers looking at Global South volunteering. On the other hand, volunteer-involving organizations (e.g. UN, Red Cross) have been increasingly counting on these “local volunteers” to tackle global challenges, such as contributing to the achievement of the “SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)”. As empowering as this speech may seem on the surface, little is known about the effects of organization-volunteer dynamics. In order to explore these bottlenecks, this thesis seeks to decipher dynamics shaping the relationship between the world’s largest humanitarian organization, the Red Cross, and its volunteers. Claims are supported by ethnographic field data generated from Danish Red Cross (DRC) in its interactions with Kenya Red Cross (KRCS), across funded-projects in Mombasa and Nairobi.
My findings reveal organizational paradoxes that influence how the organization comprehend, discuss and put volunteering into practice. Furthermore, it displays how these paradoxes are affecting the way volunteering is formed in a Global South set up. Global South volunteering studies (“CBWs -Community-based workers”; “CHWs - Community-health workers”, “South-South volunteering”) and organization-volunteer dynamics literature (“Org. factors affecting volunteers”) were used as analytical lenses. The implications of the thesis concern the need for a new set of organizational practices enabling the Red Cross to develop volunteers as facilitators. I conclude by proposing a new typology of Global South volunteers, based on the insights coming out from the field.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages93
SupervisorsEster Barinaga