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Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Volunteer Leaders: Research Earns Honors for SPEA's Matthew Baggetta

June 12, 2013
Bloomington, Indiana --

An article that offers new insight into the leadership of volunteer-driven associations and organizations has earned Dr. Matthew Baggetta a prestigious honor.

Matthew BaggettaBaggetta is a member of the faculty at the Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs. With co-authors Hahrie Han and Kenneth Andrews, Baggetta wrote the forthcoming “Leading Associations: How Leadership Teams Generate Leader Time Contributions” in the American Sociological Review.

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) has named the article the recipient of its Outstanding Academic Publication on Membership Organizations Award.

“We’re honored to receive the award and grateful for the opportunity it presents,” Baggetta said. “We hope one result is wider distribution of our research and that proves beneficial to associations struggling to maintain the best possible volunteer leadership.”

For the article, Baggetta, Hahn and Andrews analyzed data collected from 1,616 Sierra Club volunteer leaders and the 368 chapters and groups they led. They found that the way teams work together, share the workload and hold meetings shapes the commitment of the leaders:

  • The more time leaders spend in meetings, the less time they are willing to give to the organization.
  • The more formal training leaders receive, the more hours they’re willing to contribute.
  • Associations are better off getting current leaders to act as an interdependent, fair and balanced team than by seeking out new leaders.

“While this topic is certainly worthy of more research, the bottom line of our analysis is encouraging for organizers,” Baggetta said. “Improve how you work, share, and meet and you just might find the leaders you already have are the ideal volunteer leaders you were wishing for.”

Baggetta, Han, and Andrews will receive a $5,000 prize with the award. It is available only to scholars publishing academic research related to membership associations or member-driven associations. Judges from the Institute for Nonprofits at North Carolina State University, ASAE and the larger scholarly community base the award on the paper’s academic rigor, ability to advance research on associations and practical value to association managers and policy-makers.