Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 87–106 | Cite as

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

  • Henrietta Grönlund
  • Kirsten Holmes
  • Chulhee Kang
  • Ram A. Cnaan
  • Femida Handy
  • Jeffrey L. Brudney
  • Debbie Haski-Leventhal
  • Lesley Hustinx
  • Meenaz Kassam
  • Lucas C. P. M. Meijs
  • Anne Birgitta Pessi
  • Bhangyashree Ranade
  • Karen A. Smith
  • Naoto Yamauchi
  • Siniša Zrinščak


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 



The authors would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers of Journal of Academic Ethics for their comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henrietta Grönlund
    • 1
  • Kirsten Holmes
    • 2
  • Chulhee Kang
    • 3
  • Ram A. Cnaan
    • 4
  • Femida Handy
    • 4
  • Jeffrey L. Brudney
    • 5
  • Debbie Haski-Leventhal
    • 6
  • Lesley Hustinx
    • 7
  • Meenaz Kassam
    • 8
  • Lucas C. P. M. Meijs
    • 9
  • Anne Birgitta Pessi
    • 10
  • Bhangyashree Ranade
    • 11
  • Karen A. Smith
    • 12
  • Naoto Yamauchi
    • 13
  • Siniša Zrinščak
    • 14
  1. 1.Department of Practical TheologyUniversity of HelsinkiUniversity of HelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Curtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Yonsei UniversitySeoulKorea
  4. 4.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Cleveland State UniversityClevelandUSA
  6. 6.Centre for Social Impact, Australian School of Business, University of NSWKensingtonAustralia
  7. 7.Ghent UniversityGentBelgium
  8. 8.American University of SharjahSharjahUAE
  9. 9.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus UniversityDR RotterdamThe Netherlands
  10. 10.Helsinki Collegium of Advanced StudiesUniversity of HelsinkiFinland
  11. 11.Marketing & Market Research ConsultantsPuneIndia
  12. 12.Victoria University WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  13. 13.Osaka School of International Public PolicyOsaka UniversityToyonakaJapan
  14. 14.Faculty of Law, Department for Social WorkUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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