Are volunteers more dedicated than paid staff?

As many of you know I’m fascinated not only with how the open source software model works but how companies are unintentionally influencing the model by injecting money. I’ve shared my research and thoughts in my “Would you do it again for free?” talk.

So when I saw Volunteer staff are surprisingly committed, I was not surprised to see that volunteers were more committed on average than paid staff. I was surprised to see that the study authors decided that it:

could have to do with the fact the volunteers
tended to be older. “Older people are motivated to volunteer because of
their wish to fulfil an obligation or commitment to society,”

They forgot a few things like:

  • Were the paid staff volunteers before they got paid? Or were they recruited to the organization with a paycheck?
  • Do the volunteers get more (or less) say in what they work on?
  • Are the work conditions and hours the same for volunteers and paid staff?
  • Do they do the same types of tasks?

…and so on. I would bet that not all of the paid staff were volunteers first, and that while volunteers are drawn to an organization because they believe in the cause, paid staff are drawn because of the cause and the paycheck. Some might do it more for the cause and others more for the paycheck, but it’s not so clearly for the cause like the volunteers.

(Disclaimer: I was not intrigued enough to pay $28 to read the original article, so I just read summaries and abstracts.)