All aboard: A relation between the organisational structure and the commitment of high-stakes volunteers An exploratory embedded case study at two rescue stations in the North-West region of the KNRM

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Non-profit-organisations engaging in high-risk activities rely on high-stakes volunteers (HSVs) for the functioning of their organisation. The present study aims to explore how the organisational structure design relates to the affective and normative commitment of HSVs. To explore this relation, a single embedded case study was conducted at an HSV organisation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and the transcripts were analysed using the methodological approach to constructing a grounded theory by Peters and Wester. The conceptual model that guided the exploration was socio-technical systems design by De Sitter, fused with elements of the three-component model on organisational commitment by Meyer and Allen. The results suggest that, in this context, HSV commitment is characterized by high degrees of affective and normative commitment. The affective commitment of HSVs is positively influenced by an organisational structure facilitating autonomy, which is characterized by low levels of functional concentration, low levels of specialisation, intermediate levels of differentiation and a high degree of operational regulation. However, an intermediate degree of differentiation of regulatory activities into aspects, negatively influenced the affective commitment of HSVs, as it limits the influence of HSVs on infrastructural design decisions. Finally, the HSVs have a high degree of normative commitment towards the organisation.
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