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ph.d. scholarship (4 years) -- Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium)

22.12.08 |

ph.d. scholarship (4 years)

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium)

The impact of voluntary principals and agents on npo governance and
performance: a theoretical study

This study's aim is to develop micro-economic models of organisational
behaviour explicitly taking the presence of volunteers into
consideration. Therefore, the researcher will be selected on the basis
of the assessment of her/his thorough knowledge of (and preferably
experience in) theoretical micro-economics.

The models to be developed fit into the aforementioned principal-agent
framework (see Bénabou and Tirole (2003) as an example of the approach
to be taken), and will depart from the confrontation of organisational
and individual utility functions. Important arguments in the individual
utility functions will be the effort of the volunteer, her attachment to
the organisational goals and her attachment to the clients’ goals (for
the introduction of this distinction, see our previous work in Caers et
al. (2006b)), her inclination to shirk, and the possibility of
alternative activities. The impact on organisational performance will be
analytically assessed. Given the expected amount of analytical
difficulties to be met due to the complexity of the utility functions
involved (see also Caers et al., 2005, 2006a), the modelling effort is
planned to gradually evolve from simpler cases to more realistic ones,
as is traditional for this kind of work. In the next paragraphs we
describe a preliminary structure of this work.

The first year, after having reviewed the literature, the ‘simpler’
models will be constructed. We will model organisations with only
operational volunteers (the other categories of persons involved being
professionals), then with only managerial volunteers, and then with only
voluntary board members. These first models will concentrate on the
agency costs without bonding and monitoring, which will be introduced
later on. Volunteers will be modelled as utility maximisers, therefore
not necessarily exclusively pursuing organisational goals. Agency costs
then are the differences between the performance levels obtained, and
the ‘first best’ levels. Clearly, performance based reward schemes,
which play an important role in the governance literature on profit
organisations, are not relevant here.

In the second year, we will first introduce bonding and monitoring in
the models developed in the first year, monitoring reflecting essential
aspects of organisational governance. Furthermore, we will also consider
volunteers still to be present at only one level in the organisation,
but now together with paid staff members. Also, models with only
volunteers at two of the three levels described above will be conceived.

In year three the most comprehensive models will be derived: volunteers
at all levels, together with professionals at all levels, leading to a
set of empirically testable hypotheses, to be verified in the fourth
year, at least within one large organisation grouping both paid staff
members and volunteers at all levels.

For further information: Marc Jegers, VUB, Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussel,
Belgium 00 32 2 629 21 13 marc.jegers @ website:

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