Emergency service volunteers: affiliation and commitment

Document Type


Publication details

Baxter-Tomkins, A & Wallace, M 2012, 'Emergency service volunteers: affiliation and commitment', paper presented to Managing for volatility and instability: 26th Annual Australian & New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) Conference, Adelaide, SA, 5-7 December.


This paper presents some qualitative research from a larger sociological study of the lived experiences of emergency services volunteers in New South Wales, Australia. It applies psychological contract theory, usually used in human resource management studies in relation to members of the paid workforce, in a novel way. Using this theory it examines the motivations and reciprocal relationships experienced by emergency services volunteers with each other, their volunteer leadership, the community and the volunteer organisation. The findings offer a picture of a complex set of relationships that may be explained in terms of a number of types of psychological contract. Violation of some of the psychological contracts has the effect of severing the volunteer relationship.