Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 87-106

First online:

Cultural Values and Volunteering: A Cross-cultural Comparison of Students’ Motivation to Volunteer in 13 Countries

  • Henrietta GrönlundAffiliated withDepartment of Practical Theology, University of Helsinki Email author 
  • , Kirsten HolmesAffiliated withCurtin University
  • , Chulhee KangAffiliated withYonsei University
  • , Ram A. CnaanAffiliated withUniversity of Pennsylvania
  • , Femida HandyAffiliated withUniversity of Pennsylvania
  • , Jeffrey L. BrudneyAffiliated withCleveland State University
  • , Debbie Haski-LeventhalAffiliated withCentre for Social Impact, Australian School of Business, University of NSW
  • , Lesley HustinxAffiliated withGhent University
  • , Meenaz KassamAffiliated withAmerican University of Sharjah
    • , Lucas C. P. M. MeijsAffiliated withRotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
    • , Anne Birgitta PessiAffiliated withHelsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies
    • , Bhangyashree RanadeAffiliated withMarketing & Market Research Consultants
    • , Karen A. SmithAffiliated withVictoria University Wellington
    • , Naoto YamauchiAffiliated withOsaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University
    • , Siniša ZrinščakAffiliated withFaculty of Law, Department for Social Work, University of Zagreb

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Voluntary participation is connected to cultural, political, religious and social contexts. Social and societal factors can provide opportunities, expectations and requirements for voluntary activity, as well as influence the values and norms promoting this. These contexts are especially central in the case of voluntary participation among students as they are often responding to the societal demands for building a career and qualifying for future assignments and/or government requirements for completing community service. This article questions how cultural values affect attitudes towards volunteerism, using data from an empirical research project on student volunteering activity in 13 countries in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific region. The findings indicate that there are differences in motivation between countries which represent different cultural values. This article sets these findings in context by comparing structural and cultural factors which may influence volunteerism within each country.


Volunteer motivation Cultural values Students Cross-cultural comparisons