Developing public disaster communication for volunteer recruitment: understanding volunteer motivations

Edited book (chapter)


McDonald, Lynette M., Creber, Melissa, Sun, Huichun and Sonn, Lindsey. 2015. "Developing public disaster communication for volunteer recruitment: understanding volunteer motivations." Kramer, Michael W., Lewis, Laurie K. and Gossett, Loril L. (ed.) Volunteering and communication - Volume 2 Studies in international and intercultural contexts . New York, United States. Peter Lang Publishing. pp. 27-47
Chapter Title

Developing public disaster communication for volunteer recruitment: understanding volunteer motivations

Book Chapter CategoryEdited book (chapter)
ERA Publisher ID2934
Book TitleVolunteering and communication - Volume 2 Studies in international and intercultural contexts
AuthorsMcDonald, Lynette M. (Author), Creber, Melissa (Author), Sun, Huichun (Author) and Sonn, Lindsey (Author)
EditorsKramer, Michael W., Lewis, Laurie K. and Gossett, Loril L.
Volume2
Page Range27-47
SeriesVolunteering and Communication
Chapter Number2
Number of Pages21
Year2015
PublisherPeter Lang Publishing
Place of PublicationNew York, United States
ISBN9781433124624
9781454197164
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3726/978-1-4539-1441-0
Web Address (URL)http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?event=cmp.ccc.seitenstruktur.detailseiten&seitentyp=produkt&pk=77269&cid=681
Abstract

Understanding spontaneous volunteers
Spontaneous volunteers who converge on disaster areas play a critical response role, often being first on the scene and typically trusted by victims (Fulmer, Portelli, Foltin, Zimmerman, Chachkes, and Goldfrank, 2007). The term 'spontaneous volunteers' refers to individuals who provide assistance immediately following a disaster (Lowe and Forthergill, 2003). The sometimes overwhelming number of spontaneous volunteers, from both within and outside the disaster-affected community, poses significant challenges for disaster relief and recovery services (Barraket, Keast, Newton, Walters, and James, 2013). Characteristically, as spontaneous volunteers are seen to hinder relief efforts, government and emergency management agencies resist harnessing this workforce (Drabek and McEntire, 2003). Yet these untrained volunteers are integral to accomplishing many disaster recovery tasks (Barsky, Trainor, Torres, and Aguirre, 2007). Indeed, most response work is carried out by community members who are present or nearby during a disaster (Lowe and Fothergill, 2003).

Designing communication that stimulates people to volunteer to assist community recovery efforts in large-scale emergencies is therefore crucial (Palttala and Vos (2011). To most effectively assist recovery efforts, this workforce needs to be instructed on how best to assist and be deployed to areas most needing assistance. In order to effectively recruit and manage this workforce, understanding spontaneous volunteers and their motivations is critical to establishing effective disaster communication plans (Lowe and Fothergill, 2003; Palttala and Vos, 2011). Since disasters often generate powerful emotions and different responses (Beyerlein and Sikkink, 2008), understanding emotions’ role in motivating behavior is important. Although emotion is intensely researched in other domains (e.g., organizational psychology, management, marketing), its influence has received little attention in volunteering and disaster research.

In parallel with volunteer convergence onto physical disaster sites, convergence behavior is now evident on-line (Hughes, Palen, Sutton, Liu, and Vieweg, 2008). In the 2011 Brisbane floods, many individuals used social media such as Facebook and Twitter not only to exchange information, but for coordinating relief efforts (Knaus, 2011). The actual and potential use of social media in disasters has generated intense interest evidenced by a small, but burgeoning body of literature (Alexander, 2013). The use of social media as a method of communication and information exchange has been studied in 2011 Brisbane flood research (e.g., Barraket et al., 2013; Cheong and Cheong, 2011), but investigation of social media used by individuals for volunteer recruitment has only recently attracted research attention (e.g., Macias, Hilyard, and Fremuth, 2009; Jones, 2013). The widespread adoption and use of social media by members of the public during disasters (Alexander, 2013) suggest that social media is increasingly critical to future disaster management and relief efforts. Further, with the increasing use of online social networks in disaster volunteering, it is important to understand how – or whether – social media affects the interpersonal bonds known to influence volunteer recruitment.

Consequently, this research investigates the factors motivating the spontaneous volunteering behavior of the 'Mud Army' following the 2011 Brisbane floods. As anecdotal evidence suggests that many volunteers used social media to co-ordinate volunteering efforts via the extended friendship network that is Facebook, the research also examines the role of social media in volunteer recruitment. This chapter concludes with implications for disaster communication.

KeywordsBrisbane floods, spontaneous volunteers, motivation, emotion
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020359999. Other commerce, management, tourism and services not elsewhere classified
Public Notes

No evidence of copyright restrictions preventing deposit of Author version.

Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Queensland
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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https://research.usq.edu.au/item/q34w6/developing-public-disaster-communication-for-volunteer-recruitment-understanding-volunteer-motivations

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