What’s in it for me?

Exploring the attraction, motivation and management of volunteers from individual and organisational perspectives


PhD studentship in Human Resources Management on “What’s in it for me? Exploring the attraction, motivation and management of volunteers from individual and organisational perspectives” at College of Business and Law, UWE Bristol.

Ref: 2223-APR-FBL06

Closing date for applications: 15 January 2023.

Start date of this studentship: 1 April 2023.

Studentship details

In 2016, volunteering in the UK totalled 2.633 million FTE, 1.49 million of which was undertaken by women, who were typically white, middle-class, middle-aged, from higher socio-economic groups and well-educated backgrounds (NCVO, 2019). Numerous benefits to voluntary work have been identified, from both the individual and organisation perspectives, including the acquisition of new skills and experiences for both and improved wellbeing for volunteers (Weller et al, 2021; Kearney, 2007).

Volunteering can present unique challenges for both the organisation and the volunteer. We welcome proposals that investigate the experiences of volunteers, from both perspectives, and that offer deep practical and theoretical insights into volunteers, their motivations, and the ways in which they are managed.

Suggested research questions may include (but are not restricted to):

  • What motivates individuals to become volunteers, for example, altruism, activism, atonement, and how does the experience of voluntary work compare with their expectations of volunteering?
  • Do organisations attempt to balance individual motivations for voluntary work?
  • What tensions does the professionalization of voluntary organisations present for individual volunteers and the organisation?
  • How do organisations attract a more diverse group of volunteers?

Previous studies are normative and quantitatively based in psychology (Kim et al, 2010; Bazarra, 2011) and as such the literature is often acontextual and insensitive to the political nature of the setting. We especially welcome proposals with a qualitative/mixed methods approach, innovative methodologies and theoretical insights, including an intersectional perspective.

The studentship reflect ongoing commitment of the College of Business and Law at UWE to the development of its doctoral programmes. 
Prospective student will be based in the Bristol Business School, which is home to several multidisciplinary research groups.

Doctoral students at the College benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from UWE Doctoral Academy, including extensive professional development programme, research skills training and careers advice. Find out more about the Doctoral Academy.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please contact Dr Pawel Capik (Director of Doctoral Research) at pawel.capik@uwe.ac.uk.

For an informal discussion of the research proposal, please contact Dr Sarah-Louise Weller at sarah3.weller@uwe.ac.uk.


Studentship is available from 1 April 2023 for three years, subject to satisfactory progress, and includes tax exempt stipend at £17,668 per annum.

Full-time home/international tuition fees will be covered for up to three years.


Applicants must have at least a 2:1 degree in business management or cognate discipline, and preferably a masters degree (with average programme mark of no less than 65%, UK grading scale or international equivalent).

A recognised English language qualification is required. IELTS score of 7.0 overall, or equivalent.

How to apply

  • Prepare your research proposal (no more than five pages all-inclusive; font size 11, 1.5-spacing, 2-inch margins). This should ideally happen in consultation with the potential supervisor.
  • You should contact the potential supervisor with an advanced draft of the proposal to confirm they are willing to support your application.
  • Submit your formal application online. When prompted use the reference number 2223-APR-FBL06.

Supporting documentation: you will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application so please have these available when you complete the form.

References: you will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing Date

The closing date for applications is 15 January 2023 at 18:00 (GMT).

Further Information

Interviews will take place in February. If you have not heard from us by 31 January 2023, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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