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Best Paper Award 2019 for Voluntas

By Faina Diola, (Philippines) Chair, Voluntas 2019 Best Paper Award Committee

With pride, we present the winner of the Best Paper Award for Voluntas (Vol.30) 2019.

For 2019, we had to choose from among 107 original papers from Issues 1 to 6. As always, the papers published in Voluntas for 2019 are of high quality, coming from a diverse geographical sphere and which represent the breadth of both theoretical and practical nuances in Third Sector research.

The Committee members have had to make further deliberation towards the final phase of the selection as there were two papers that came quite close in the rankings. It was then at a virtual meeting in June that we deemed it best to also present the next best paper as Honorable Mention, worthy of its merit.

We present below the Best Paper and the paper that deserves an Honorable Mention.

Best Paper Award:

Purpose, Commitment and Coordination Around Small Wins: A Proactive Approach to Governance in Integrated Hybrid Organizations

By Miriam Wolf and Johanna Mair

Voluntas Volume 30: No. 3 (June), pp. 535–548 

(The paper will be open to all on the Voluntas website from September to November 2020)

Research work on hybrid organizations has become a favorite topic by scholars and practitioners alike. The paper by Wolf and Mair on hybrid organizations, specifically on social enterprises, is however more proactive: it makes an original contribution to the study of hybrid organizations by focusing on governance mechanisms that provide a new perspective, away from the traditional control view on organizations.

Indeed, the paper makes a strong focus on a key challenge of social enterprises (i.e., mission drift) and suggests an important approach to expanding governance concerns beyond narrow compliance questions. It brings home the point by drawing on the legacy of the old institutional theory on purpose, commitment, and coordinating around small wins, but treating these as interlocking governance mechanisms that allow social enterprises as hybrid organizations to mitigate the risk of mission drift.

Despite the obvious absence of empirical data, the paper is no doubt theoretically solid, exhaustive, and relevant. Wolf and Mair’s paper is solid in its theoretical review and in the use of literature to lodge the new knowledge it has created and by which it weaves the study’s discourse and elucidates its theoretical arguments. Based on the objectives and the scope of the paper, the use of theory and related studies nevertheless warranted the analysis and conclusions. Its research methodology is therefore robust, while providing strong analytical frameworks as probable bases for tests in future empirical research.

The paper is highly relevant in terms of policy for the third sector in different countries, giving valuable sense by arguing on the importance of going beyond control and compliance approaches in hybrid organizations. The paper especially stresses on the intertwined mechanisms: coordinating around small wins as a governance mechanism provides the opportunity to align both commitment and purpose over time and to ensure continuous adaptation and development of the organization. Essentially, the paper introduces a governance approach that recognizes features providing for space for proactivity and self-correction. This theoretical argument helps to unlock mind boggling pressures of how social enterprises may cope with how to align multiple institutional pressures and demands within and outside of the organization, that is, a fresh look that focuses on common ends rather than diverging means.


Honorable Mention

The Obligation to Volunteer as Fair Reciprocity? Welfare Recipients’ Perceptions of Giving Back to Society

By:  Thomas Kampen, Lex Veldboer, & Reinout Kleinhans

Voluntas Vol. 30 (2019) : No. 5 (October), pp. 991–1005

The paper’s original contribution is its slant on the impacts of mandatory volunteering while bringing in a strong social justice analysis. The paper has clear implications for social justice, welfare states, and touches on broader debates on volunteerism across countries. The paper uses solid research method by adopting in-depth qualitative analysis conducted over an extended period of time (2009 to 2013) and is rigorous and critical in its analysis.

The global pandemic and resultant rise in global unemployment makes this paper more relevant than ever! Its approach to focus on the volunteers is excellent. The different responses and views of volunteers shed light on the practice and the impact of the reward system associated with labor. Indeed, the paper is theoretically sound with clear options for extending the research to other contexts.

This said however, the paper’s relevance depends a bit on how prevalent underlying policies may be or become in the future. Also the analytical discussion and social justice issues may vary significantly vary from country to country and whether or not some countries may actually have volunteering policies at all. For other countries, the concept of "mandatory volunteering itself" may also sound controversial. Nevertheless, the paper merits its recognition as Honorable Mention.


Thanks to all our hardworking and conscientious committee members, as this work wouldn’t have been possible without the painstaking and valuable work of our esteemed members:  Alice Acejas (Philippines), Marzina Begum (Bangladesh), Monica Estudillo (Mexico), Armine Ishkanian ( U.K.),  Rafaella Rametta (Italy), Kimberly Reed (USA), Itamar Shachar (Belgium), and Hans Schmitz (USA).

Our congratulations to the Top Winners!


Call for a Special Issue to Voluntas: Paradoxes within the Management of Volunteers

Subject: Call for a Special Issue to Voluntas: Paradoxes within the Management of Volunteers

Call for a Special Issue to Voluntas: Paradoxes within the Management of Volunteers

Guest Editors:

Anders la Cour, Associate Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark (corresponding guest editor)

Nina Eliasoph, Professor at University of Southern California, USA

Lesley Hustinx, Associate Professor at University of Gent, Belgium


The study of paradoxes has once again become fashionable in the studies of organizations and management. Leading journals within the field have devoted special issues on the topic, and central scholars have discussed the concept’s analytical relevance. This special issue will build on a broadly defined concept of “paradox,” and will use it as an important tool for understanding the interactional tensions that are specific for the management of volunteers. See the attached full call. 


Proposal for deadlines:

Abstract submissions due: August 15, 2020 (between 400 and 700 words, send to Anders la Cour, email: al.mpp@cbs.dk)

Full paper submissions due: January 30, 2021



ERNOP Special Issue of Voluntas

Philanthropy in the spotlight?
Achievements, Limitations, Opportunities and Risks

Full paper submissions due: December 15th 2019

Guest editors: Marta Rey-García (School of Economics and Business, University of A Coruña (UDC), Spain), Georg von Schnurbein (Center for Philanthropy Studies (CEPS), University of Basel, Switzerland), Michaela Neumayr (Institute for Nonprofit Management, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria)

The European Research Network on Philanthropy (ERNOP) is pleased to announce that a special issue of Voluntas will be dedicated to the theme of the 9th international ERNOP conference 2019. Scholars are invited to submit their full papers for the special issue, in which we will focus on achievements but also limitations of philanthropy. Furthermore, the opportunities and risks for philanthropy to address new societal issues or to tackle them in innovative ways will be explored.

In recent years, the public profile of philanthropy has increased. Across Europe (and beyond) philanthropic actors take the lead in addressing societal issues and the contribution of philanthropy is being (re)discovered by public actors. Nevertheless, at the same time, expectations about the resources and achievements of philanthropy may pale in the face of public welfare. The advancement of knowledge about the theory and practice of philanthropy has evidenced its achievements as much as it has unveiled its limitations. While philanthropy is not a new phenomenon, its heightened visibility has raised questions about the background and motives of philanthropic organizations and donors, the place of philanthropy within (European) welfare states, the relationship of philanthropy to other actors that aim to solve societal issues and/or put issues on the societal agenda, and the impact of philanthropy in society. New methods or models such as impact investing or political agenda setting push the boundaries of philanthropy further and fuel discussions of legitimacy. Digital transformation is influencing all actors involved in philanthropy and their relationships, from donors to volunteers. Philanthropy may not only tackle new digital threats, such as those to privacy or democracy, but also take advantage of the opportunities of becoming digital. An increase in visibility seems to call for more transparency and a better understanding of the achievements, limitations, opportunities and risks of philanthropy: we should look the philanthropic gift horse in the mouth.

We invite scholars from various disciplines sharing a motivation to discuss the achievements of philanthropy in the present day, and to generate new questions about how philanthropy might develop in the future. Scholars are especially encouraged to submit papers addressing questions related to the reputation of philanthropic organizations, including issues such as transparency and legitimation, papers addressing questions related to democratic aspects of philanthropy, such as power exerted due to philanthropic activities, papers addressing limitations of philanthropic achievements in regard of solving societal (social) issues, and papers exploring opportunities and risks for the future (new problems and new methods). More theory-oriented, conceptual papers on the opportunities and limitations of philanthropy research are also welcome. In doing so, the special issue aims to also discuss the less bright side of philanthropy.

Authors are requested to submit their manuscripts directly in the Springer system; be sure to indicate that the paper being submitted is part of the Special Issue: 'Philanthropy in the spotlight’ in the submission questionnaire.

To read the full call, click here.



This award is presented biennially for an outstanding paper in VOLUNTAS that contributes to the field of civil society, third sector, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, voluntarism and related issues.  

Best Paper Award 2017

Is My Volunteer Job Not Real Work? The Experiences of Migrant Women with Finding Employment Through Volunteer Work

by Thomas Kampen and Jasmijn Slootjes



Best Paper Award 2016

How Civil Society Organizations Foster Insurgent Citizenship: Lessons from the Brazilian Landless Movement

by Lehn Benjamin and Abdulrazak Karriem

Voluntas Best Paper Awards, 2016 & 2017
by Patricia Mendonça 

Dear ISTR community,

It is with joy that we communicate the winners of the Voluntas Best Paper Award 2016/2017

The award aims to give visibility to the academic publication of the ISTR, the renowned journal Voluntas, reference in the field of studies of third sector and civil society and its related themes.

Voluntas stands out by welcoming a thematic and geographical diversity of works. Diversity was also reflected in the award criteria and in the formation of the evaluation committee.

In the period 2016/2017 Voluntas had a significant increase in published papers, being, 129 papers in 2016 and 118 papers in 2017. This represented an additional challenge for the Committee's choice, given the many high-level papers found and the diversity of their themes.

The evaluation process had several rounds of readings and rankings. We present below the winners of this cycle. As chair of the best paper committee I leave my big thank you to our ISTR volunteer members, who offered their valuable time, knowledge and effort to this task: Thomas Adam (USA), Frederick Claeye (France), Lorena Cortes (Mexico), Armine Ishkanian ( UK), Mary Zhou (Hong Kong), Jenny Paturyan (Armenia), Lili Wang (USA) and Hilary Yerbury (Australia).

VOLUNTAS: Editor's Choice

Nonprofits are collective endeavors that supply a bewildering range of products and services, including some of value to their immediate members only. Many also advocate policy positions on issues of direct interest to themselves, their clients and beneficiaries, and/or the broader community. There is substantial variation in their advocacy strategies, the scope of policy goals they embrace, and the types of individuals they engage in such activities. Consequently, there are also differences in whether and how nonprofit advocacy activities reduce inequalities, enhance civic participation, and promote deliberative democracy. This symposium interprets and theorizes about emerging nonprofit challenges by showcasing research of nonprofit advocacy and civic engagement scholars. Collectively, the papers demonstrate the vibrancy of the field of nonprofit civic engagement and advocacy and identify important areas for future research to capture the complexity of nonprofits as actors guided by both instrumental and normative goals, serving organizational and social missions, and reducing some types of inequalities but creating new ones.

To learn more, please visit https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11266-016-9


VOLUNTAS: Open Access Articles

VOLUNTAS: Be sure to read open access articles, which can be found at 

The current issue of VOLUNTAS offers open access for:

'Grassroots Environmental Activism in an Authoritarian Context: The Trees Movement in Vietnam' 

'Social Marketisation and Policy Influence of Third Sector Organisations: Evidence from the UK'

'Peruvian Grassroots Organizations in Times of Violence and Peace. Between Economic Solidarity, Participatory Democracy, and Feminism'


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