Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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This chapter describes how the empirical study has been performed; the choice of approach, interview technique, as well as criticism regarding the method chosen.

Qualitative Approach

There are two main methodological approaches of how to perform research, quantitative and qualitative approach. Which method to choose from depends on the problem and purpose of the scientific study. The quantitative method is mostly used for a statistical analysis of the data collected and the qualitative method, on the other hand, is used to gain a deeper understanding of the problem (Patel & Davidson, 2003). Also mentioned by Patel and Davidson is that the goal of a qualitative approach is to understand and analyse a problem looking at the whole picture. A qualitative approach to a scientific study is useful since it is possible to see the problem in a variety of ways, to get a deeper understanding and be able to identify unexpected connections (Holme and Solvang, 1997). As an example of the difference between the two approaches it can be said that the quantitative researcher look at the characteristics of a person, such as age, sex or education, as an entity while the qualitative researcher looks at the individual as an entity (Trost, 2005).

Qualitative interview

The purpose of a qualitative interview is to explore and identify the nature and qualities of someone, such as the interviewed person’s perception and understandings of a certain matter (Patel & Davidson, 2003). Therefore a large part of the interview is about understanding what the interviewed person feels and how s/he thinks (Trost, 2005). When using this method it is impossible to set up different alternatives of answers or decide what is a true answer since the answers are of subjective character and can not be judged as right or wrong (Patel & Davidson, 2003). One strength of the qualitative interview is that it is very similar to an ordinary everyday situation and a normal conversation. The person interviewed can then feel comfortable and is able to further explain his/her viewpoint, which is not possible in most surveys done. The situation of investigation becomes meaningful when it emerges a relation of trust between the interviewer and the person interviewed. Through that it is possible to gain interesting knowledge and important facts at the same time as the situation is seen as meaningful for the person interviewed (Holme & Solvang, 1997).
Qualitative interviews are characterised by simple straightforward questions with complex and dense answers (Trost, 2005). From the conversation the interviewer then search for information that answers deeper and more complex questions that brings the research forward (Holme & Solvang, 1997). The data collected through qualitative interviews is not meant to be used by itself but should be interpreted with help of a theoretical perspective to make it interesting (Trost, 2005).

Empirical design

We have made ten interviews with persons working for the Swedish Red Cross. The ambition was to do as many as possible face to face, since it would build up a greater trust between the parts and observation of the body language and other aspects can be taken into consideration together with the outspoken answers (Trost, 2005). Some of the interviews took place at the headquarter in Stockholm and some at the local office in
Jönköping. During the interviews we took turns in asking questions and taking notes. The three telephone interviews we had to do were made with a loudspeaker telephone while one of us was interviewing when the other one took notes.
To get a more complete picture, persons in different positions in the organisation have been interviewed; people working on a voluntary basis, salaried employees and managers. People with a great knowledge within the organisation helped us to pick appropriate respondents for the study. The president of the Red Cross, Anders Milton, was asked to give an interview but he referred to other persons in the organisation with more specific knowledge about the volunteers and their situation. Denscombe (1998) explain that a subjective selection can be functional if the person making this selection has enough information about the sample and the study.
It is of great importance to formulate the interview questions in the right way. According to Patel & Davidson (2003) there are two important aspects to keep in mind. The first one is the level of standardization, how much freedom the interviewer is given when it comes to the design of the questions and the inbound order of asking them during the interview. The second central feature is how structural the questions are, to what degree the respondent can interpret them according to his/her background and experience. The questions we formulated were open and sorted into a few categories. There are two different versions of the interview guide, one for volunteer respondents and one for employee respondents (See Appendix 1 and 2).
We have chosen to use a semi-structured method for interviewing. This kind of interview is more flexible and it is possible to adjust the questions depending on the respondents’ answers. That form of interview gave the respondents a higher level of freedom to give wide answers and made it easier to analyse and compare the information received (Krag, 1993). This method made it possible for us to ask more questions during the interviews, depending on what kind of answers we received.
Before the first interview we tested our questions on a couple of people. Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2003) call this part of the preparation “test-pilots”, and it is useful in order to be sure that relevant questions are being asked and to make sure that the respondent will not misunderstand the questions. It also gave us an idea of how long time the average interview took.

Reliability and Validity

The concepts of reliability and validity are often discussed when applying a quantitative approach but these concepts are also relevant for qualitative research. Validity in a qualitative study is about the entire research process. The goal is to discover phenomena, interpret and understand, describe beliefs or culture.
The reliability should be evaluated from the unique situation, which is more important than always receiving the same answer from interviews. What is important is that the respondents understand the questions in a similar way. Since validity and reliability is so closely connected, qualitative researchers hardly use the concept of reliability, instead validity is used in a broader context (Patel & Davidson, 2003).
The validity of a qualitative study, as mentioned before, includes all parts of the research process, which means that it is not only related to the collection of data. It is more about doing a trustworthy interpretation of the person interviewed and grasp ambiguous and contradicting information. When formulating different interpretations it is important, from a validity perspective, to be able to argue for the most probable interpretation as well as communicating what the interpretations actually say. In addition, a good qualitative analysis has a good logic where all parts related and create a meaningful whole (Patel & Davidson, 2003).
We decided to record all the interviews with a tape-recorder to be able to listen to the answers over again and minimize the risk of misunderstandings. This keeps the level of validity high. There is a risk that the respondents felt unconfident with the recorder present, but we still think it is was a very useful tool for being able to deliver a trustworthy study. The semi-structured interviews are another factor that helped us to increase validity.


After completing our study we still believe choosing a qualitative method was the most suitable for our purpose.
Everything went as planned during the process, with just a few smaller obstacles. One of the planned interviews was cancelled and Stefan Agerhem offered to take part instead. His area of responsibility is international volunteers and his knowledge might not be as relevant for our purpose but regarding the more general information he was able to add valuable insights. The fact that we have been recommended several of the respondents can be considered as a weakness, since they can show a biased view of the organisation.
Because of the circumstances we had to make three interviews by telephone. This can be regarded as a disadvantage since we were not able to interpret body language and were not able to record them. These interviews were also shorter than the real live ones. Moreover, it has sometimes been difficult for the respondents to express themselves and it forced us to reformulate some of the questions.

Method of the Analysis

The chosen theories function as a framework for the analysis and therefore the interviews are designed in accordance to them. In the analysis we are going to integrate the empirical findings with the theories and compare the two.
The ideas brought forth by Shin and Kleiner (2003) deal with supervision and management of volunteers. We will evaluate if the management has any programs or follow any guidelines in order to motivate their volunteers and how the volunteers experience this. Also factors that make volunteers satisfied and unsatisfied will be discovered and linked to the motivation and hygiene theory by Herzberg.
Another interesting aspect is that of goals and its effect on motivation. We will analyse if the management implement goals and how it influences the voluntary workers. Also the equity theory will be considered, how the outcome is valued compared to the input, in terms of volunteers’ activities and management directives.

Empirical Framework

This chapter deals with the result from the empirical study. A presentation of the organisation as well as the result from the ten interviews is represented in this chapter. The results from the interviews are divided into two groups, employees and volunteers. Quotations will be written in italics and are used to enhance the trustworthyness.

The Red Cross


In year 1859 Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman, went to Italy to discuss a business idea with the French Emperor, Napoleon III. In Italy he became witness to the devastation at the battlefield in Solferino. There he took care of the wounded together with voluntary women. This experience changed his life and when he was back in Geneva he wrote a book, A Memory from Solferino (1862). He suggested that there in every country should be a voluntary organisation that could help taking care of the wounded in times of war and that it should be supported with international agreements. His ideas got support in Europe and in 1863 twelve governments signed the Geneva Convention Treaty and in 1876 it became the Red Cross committee. In 1864 Sweden signed the Geneva Convention Treaty. In 1901 Dunant received the Nobel Peace Prize. This prize has later been awarded to the Red Cross committee at several occasions, in 1971, 1944 and 1963. (Röda Korset, 2002).


The Red Cross is a global organisation that works with humanitarian aid. The goal is to relieve and prevent human suffering, irrespective of who is affected and how it originates. The Red Cross is situated all over the world, in 181 countries. In Moslem countries the organization is called the Red Crescent. The entire organisation follows the same basic principles of: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntaries, unity and universality. The Red Cross works in countries that have been affected by war and conflicts, but is always neutral and does not take a stand for any of the parties. Instead it always takes a stand for the individual who has been affected by the conflict. The Red Cross has no affiliation with any political party or religion, this is important since it makes the Red Cross able to prevent human suffering in all countries asking for help (Röda Korset, 2005).
At present, 97 million are members and volunteers in the Red Cross or in the Red Crescent. The work of the Red Cross is built on voluntary efforts. In order to be effective and be able to help people in need economic contributions and voluntary workers are necessary. The Red Cross in Sweden has around 320 000 members and around 40 000 of them are active in voluntary work, which means that they allocate some of their time and effort in Red Cross activities in Sweden and around the world. The Red Cross in Sweden also has a youth association, Röda Korsets Ungdomsförbund, which works with support of exposed children and young people in- and outside of Sweden (Röda Korset, 2005).

Organisational structure

There are some criteria that have to be fulfilled to become a national Red Cross organisation within the international organisation. One such thing is that the organisation has to offer activities all over the country and not just in and around big cities.
There is a local circle in every region with it own committees, volunteers and employees. Some of the employees work as Red Cross advisors and their main tasks are to allocate the needs with the right volunteers. There are local circles with volunteers all over the country. The volunteers vote for representatives that are going to represent them in the local committee and in the national assembly, these representatives are also volunteers. Besides this there is a national management with a headquarter in Stockholm. The youth association is independent and has its own committees and activities.


Annika Hjelm

Annika is 47 years old and employed at the region office in Jönköping as a Red Cross counsellor. She got a professional background as a preschool teacher and has been employed by the Red Cross since 1996. Her main task is resource development and allocation.

Lena Andrén

Lena is 57 years old and works in the area of voluntary and association development. She has been employed since 1986 and has been involved in the process of developing the voluntary activities on a national level. She got a psychical-social degree and has earlier worked within the healthcare sector.

Stefan Agerhem

Stefan has been employed in the Red Cross for 15 years. He is 40 years old and started his career as a volunteer when he was a student in Lund. He has a past in the healthcare sector and is now responsible for the international voluntary sector with his base at the main office in Stockholm.

Bahare Haghshenas

Bahare is 25 years old and the president of the youth association. She started her career in the Red Cross when she as an energetic teenager wanted to rescue the world. Bahare has a social sciences degree. Today is discrimination a matter very near to her heart and observing the media is one of her main tasks. She is also giving lectures on the same theme.

Christina Ulfsparre

Christina is 56 years old and a trained nurse and has also been educating nurses. The Red Cross has employed her since 1989 and since then she has done a lot of different things within the organisation. Right now she working on the national level and is responsible for the education of the educators. She is the co-ordinator for human rights and is visionary with a lot of ideas and energy.

Attitudes about volunteers

All of the employees interviewed all have the same view regarding volunteers; they are vital for the survival of the organisation.
“The volunteers are the Red Cross”-Annika
The volunteers are everything to the organisation. Must build the organisation on the volunteers, we could never afford to have it as it is if it were not for the volunteers”-Christina.

Table of content
Table of content
1 Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem definition
1.3 Purpose
1.4 Delimitations
1.5 Clarifications
2 Frame of reference
2.1 Shift of values
2.2 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
2.3 What is a volunteer
2.4 Herzberg’s Motivation and Hygiene Theory
2.5 Managing volunteers
2.6 Goal setting theory
2.7 Adams’ Equity Theory
3 Method
3.1 Qualitative Approach
3.2 Qualitative interview
3.3 Empirical design
3.4 Reliability and Validity
3.5 Criticism
3.6 Method of the Analysis
4 Empirical Framework 
4.1 The Red Cross
4.2 Respondents-Employees
4.3 Respondents-Volunteers
5 Analysis 
5.1 Hierarchy of Needs
5.2 Different kinds of volunteers
5.3 Motivation and Hygiene factors
5.4 Managing volunteers
5.5 Goal theory
5.6 Equity Theory
6 Conclusion
6.1 Personal reflection
6.2 Suggestions for further studies
6.3 Thanks
Work for f ree? Motivation of voluntary workers in the Red Cross

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