Social process in a voluntary organisation: a study of adult membership in the Scout Association of New Zealand
This thesis examines social processes in a large, voluntary organisation. The investigation was concerned with the activities and retention of lower-level adult members in the Scout Association of New Zealand. The demographic, socio-economic and organisational background of members, their attitudes, and the organisational context within which activity occurs were examined with reference to the relationship of these variables with the satisfaction, commitment and participation of members. Particular attention was given to five organisational variables: size, communication, control, support and effectiveness. Attitudinal variables such as solidarity, ideology, prestige and orientation were also examined. It was found that the organisational variables were most clearly related to differences in satisfaction, commitment and participation. This was described firstly in terms of an association between larger size, better and more frequent communication, and higher levels of control, support, and effectiveness. The latter in turn was related to higher levels of satisfaction, commitment, and participation. Background variables, particularly age, also proved important. This suggested that the life cycle plays a part in voluntary association membership and activity. It was concluded that the main organisational variables are affected by the peripheral structural position of voluntary associations in New Zealand society. The sanctions available to senior officials are few and generally weak, and there is often little pressure to pursue some of the more intangible formal goals. Adherence to official procedures varies, with frequent blockages of control, communication and support. This results in considerable differences in the organisational environment within which members operate. The study was carried out over two years. Observation, semi-structured and unstructured interviews were used, as well as a lengthy questionnaire.