Theoretical approach

This research is grounded in the field of organizational communication, and more precisely, the constitutive approach to organization (CCO) that emphasizes the performative role of communication in establishing, sustaining and transforming communities. Following this approach, communication is thus the main process – the mode of existence – of collective realities: communication is constitutive of organization. Investigating this constitutive force becomes the entry point to explore all organizational phenomena. In other words, CCO studies seek to comprehend the organizing and (dis)organizing properties of communication. It asks, how do we organize through communication?

Three key elements are to consider following this approach: (a) the hybridity of action, or how actions are performed within the relation between humans, things, discourses, infrastructure, etc.; (b) the organizational form that results from these associations, or how the multiple actors assemble and (re)assemble; (c) the situated property of organizing practises, which refers to the time-space dimensions of communicative events.

Applied to “Volunteering on the move”, the CCO approach allows us to:

  • Open up the analytical scope of our study on volunteering. In addition to looking at the volunteers, a CCO lens includes beneficiaries, NPO representatives, public funding policies, management strategies, donations, posters, slogans or logos, as well as any other person, thing, institution taking part in volunteering practice as part of the analysis;
  • Question the organizing modes of the volunteering activity, as an association of all those people, ideas, things and discourses that shape it;
  • Include in the study the general non-profit context, its marketization, and the particular conditions in which volunteering practices develop, as well as the way the market/mission tension within NPOs operates and develops over time.