Otago Polytechnic

Dr Stephen Atkins wants to help talented people make a bigger difference.

There is growing in interest in "voluntourism", when talented people from developed countries volunteer their time to work in underdeveloped countries, hoping to make a difference. Unfortunately many of them are both under-prepared culturally and over-qualified or unsuitably qualified for the work they carry out. As a result, they work can be ineffective, or worse - they could be taking paid jobs away from local people. There is also a risk that these volunteers offend against local customs and may accelerate the spread of "Western" culture including materialism. The volunteer may be put off volunteering ever again because of a  disappointing experience (consciously or subconsciously).

Steve's research in Otago Polytechnic's College of Enterprise and Development seeks to provide part of the solution, exploring and developing tools to assess what personal and professional skills are required for any role, and then to match volunteers to get a "best fit" rather than a misfit. Such tools have the potential for wider application in recruitment of employees, not just for volunteers in humanitarian aid work.

Steve has presented his research internationally to reach the wide audience interested in these issues. Most recently he spoke at the conference of the International Academy of Management and Business in New Orleans, United States of America, reaching an audience of professionals and practitioners as well as researchers and educators in various fields of management and business. Last year he also spoke in London on this topic at the 15th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies.

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BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT

August 2017