Assignment Writing Help on Volunteers in Response to Emergencies in the UAE


The recent rise in disaster situations in the UAE calls for increased volunteer activities in responding to emergencies. Organizations have come up to unite volunteers across various interests. An example of such organizations is the Sanid, which means Support in Arabic. Such organizations bring together volunteers for the purpose of quick disaster response. They provide training for their volunteers to enable them work effectively in emergency situations. Although factors such as values, social recognition, career development and protection motivate volunteers to provide their services, the effectiveness of the services provided relies heavily on the quality of management within the organization. The research recommends that volunteer organizations should carry out individualized researches to tune their structures to the needs of potential volunteers hence attract and retain more volunteers. This is aimed at improving the effectiveness of volunteer services.

Volunteers in Response to Emergencies in the UAE

1.1 Chapter 1: Introduction

In the light of escalating disaster situations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the individual and community awareness to disasters and disaster management is wanting. Disasters due to natural calamities such as floods, earthquakes, landslides and tropical storms have been experienced in the UAE in the past 20 years and the governments of various emirates in the UAE have put in place structures to help in ensuring preparedness in the case of a disaster (Dhanhani and others 65). The National Emergencies, Crisis and disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) is the coordinating and regulating body of any emergency situation. The emergency response system in UAE is divided into federal and local level which divides the capabilities between two levels.

A key strategic objective of the Government of United Arab Emirates is to protect the safety and security of citizens. Federal government institutions are increasing their focus on emergency management activities, given the evolving risk in their areas of responsibility. Emergency preparedness can save lives, preserve the resource and protect property by raising the understanding of risks and by contributing to a safer, more resilient system. Emergency management planning, in particular, aims to strengthen resiliency by promoting an integrated and comprehensive approach that includes the four pillars of Integrated Emergency Management: prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

In most emergency situations, the greater percentage of aid comes from volunteers. The importance of volunteers in such situations can therefore not be ignored. In the UAE, the history of volunteering dates back to the times prior to frequent disasters. Humanitarian societies span the borders of the UAE, with most individuals working with these companies being volunteers. Having set itself apart as a strong humanitarian aid donor, social workers as well as other professionals has been required to assist in various capacities as need arose.

This research aims at determining the impacts of using volunteers with special skills in responding to emergencies. In order to achieve this end, several factors will be considered including the motivation behind voluntary emergency response and the benefits of response to the volunteers. The reason for examining these underlying issues is because in any institution, the effectiveness of any process depends on the personnel involved.

1.2 Background of Volunteering in UAE

The Emirates Foundation for Youth Development reports that there are currently limitations regarding the preparedness and awareness of the UAE communities in the event of small scale disasters involving day to day occurrences (221). The international community regards community involvement as being a necessary prerequisite in the management of large scale crises in any country. One of the best ways to achieve community involvement is to encourage volunteer work in response to emergency situations.

The United Arab Emirates has a long history of volunteerism. People of all ages and with all types of skills volunteer and that trend will continue. An existing network for the unification of volunteers in emergency situation exists in the UAE. The organization, called Sanid, which is Arabic for the word ‘Support’, unites volunteers by bringing together individuals with a common sense of civic and social responsibility. The organization then trains the volunteers and prepares them for coping with both local and national emergencies. In so doing, it demonstrates the country’s ability to cope with disastrous situations. This organization works under the UAE National Emergency Response Volunteer Program (Emirates Foundation for Youth Development 222).

While some volunteers work with organized voluntary organizations, others organize themselves in an ad hoc manner for a common purpose. Others feel a need to arrive at the scene of an emergency and see how they can assist at that time. In most cases, these third types of volunteers may not be qualified for specific roles and therefore carry out general responsibilities at the time they volunteer. Besides this, the third class of volunteers mostly involves individuals who encounter emergency scenes in the course of their private activities. In any case, Coordination between the emergency management function and all volunteers in an emergency is critical to ensure efficient operations, so that operations are conducted safely.

All volunteers have special skills to share. But volunteers must be joined through a recognized organization that has knowledge of emergency management. A well-run volunteer program can make volunteers a crucial part of response and recovery efforts, and help survivors recover more quickly. Each volunteer job must be analyzed for knowledge, skill, and ability. So that volunteers can be matched to jobs that they are best suited for. That is not to say that there is no place for volunteers whose skills do match specific jobs.

1.3 Purpose of the study

Several questions exist as regards the role of volunteers in emergency situations. Some of these questions include what triggers individuals to volunteer in emergency situations particularly in the potentially dangerous ones, what factors help in sustaining volunteers in the emergencies in which they have chosen to involve themselves and how effective they are in emergency response situations. The purpose of this paper is to use both primary data collected from potential volunteers and secondary data from various related literature in order to find answers to some questions that arise based on the engagement of volunteers in emergency situations.

1.4 Justification of Study

Since no research currently exists founded on the UAE emergency response system, and particularly the role of volunteers in it, this research is justified as it will provide information that is currently lacking. It is necessary to determine how effective the use of volunteers in an emergency situation is and how it can be sustained in case of proven effectiveness. Most previous research that has been carried out about the use of volunteers in emergency response situations, focus on fire disasters. Apart from this, they are mainly aimed at determining the motivating factors behind voluntary work and are mostly carried out outside the UAE. For instance, so much has been done about the use of volunteers in emergency situations in Australia and Europe.

The focus that has been placed on fire fighting department has led to a theory gap whereby other types of natural disasters are not reported about. This theory gap is what this study desires to cover through studying the UAE and especially in terms of the effectiveness in the use of volunteers in emergency situations. In various studies, the implication of using volunteers in emergency response to natural disasters in the UAE has not been addressed.

1.5 Research Problem and Contributions

The problem addressed in this study relates to the motivation, commitment, affiliation and sustainability of volunteers in the context of emergency response. From these aspects; the study seeks to determine how effective emergency response can be due to the dependence of the operations on qualified volunteers. This research will contrib.ute to the dearth of existing literature by providing an absent piece of information, which may be used to cover the existing gaps in theory.

1.6 Overview of theoretical perspectives

In carrying out this research, the theories of public management and disaster recovery are applied in the search for an effective answer to the outlined research questions.

The Public Management Theory

The public management theory is founded on the belief that emergency management is a form of public management based on principles of organizational administration and management. In such a set up, the management of volunteer organizations operates like a public management system. This theory is relevant to this study since effectiveness of organized voluntary work depends to an immense extent on the underlying management (Keraudren and Mierlo 39).

Disaster Recovery Theory

On the other hand, the disaster recovery theory asserts that resources obtained from outside the disaster affected area must be harmonized to those within to ensure effective recovery is achieved. In this respect, the resources include both human resources and other resources that may be relevant to disaster recovery. The consideration of volunteers as a necessary resource in the response to an emergency situation makes this theory applicable in practice.

Strategic Human Resource Management Theory

Since this theory considers aspects of employee acquisition, training, motivation and retention, it is applicable to the volunteers’ scenario since volunteers are also employees that need to be hired, retained and grown in their duties. According to Baxter-Tomkins (9), Retention of employees depends on the relationship between the employer and the employees. There also exists various other factors that influence whether a volunteer may be retained or not. These factors include: recognition and responsibility given by the management, the level of challenge and interest that results from voluntary work, communication modes, organizational support and effective policies and performance feedback (Baxter-Tomkins 9).

Social Exchange theory

In order for employees to be retained, the value gained from the service provided should be more than the costs incurred in the provision of that service. Since volunteers are seldom remunerated in monetary terms, it therefore means that they have to be remunerated in other modes that may result in an increased relative value of the service provided (Rice and Fallon 18). This theory is relevant to this study since it provides guidance on the treatment of workers in a way that aids in their retention.

1.7 Research Questions

In order to address the research problem completely, several questions need to be answered by this study. The questions below need to be addressed:

Q1: What are the motivating factors behind voluntary emergency response work?

Q2: What factors affect the attitude of volunteers during the course of their duties?

Q3: What are the possible effects of using volunteers with special skills in emergency response situations?

Q4: What role does the management play in ensuring the effectiveness of an emergency response process that includes volunteers?

In order to answer these questions, the study will begin from the hypotheses that:

H1: The motivating factors for engagement in voluntary work are mainly intrinsic.

H2: Factors that affect the attitude of volunteers in their duties are related more to the management than to the volunteers’ families.

H3: using volunteers with special skills results in process efficiency due to the intrinsic motivation possessed by volunteers.

H4: The management has the responsibility of ensuring volunteer satisfaction is achieved under all circumstances.

While some of these questions will be answered from literature reviews, others have to be answered based on primary data collected from surveys carried out on potential volunteers.

1.8 Definition of Terms

To avoid ambiguity in the interpretations and meanings associated with various words and concepts, a description is provided below for various concepts related to this work.

Disaster – Lindell (1) defines a disaster as an event occurring at a specific time and place, during which a section of the society undergoes physical harm. Based on this definition, the physical harm and possibly social disruption comes about as a result of the exposure of the relevant section of the society to greater impacts than precedent. Disasters therefore find the community unprepared to handle them. Although some disasters have extensive impacts that span time, most disasters have impacts concentrated to the trans-impact and post impact temporal positions (Lindell 2).

These two positions reflect a recognizable difference to the pre-impact scenarios. In disaster management, the various phases of activity are implemented over the time periods of disaster concentration. The fact that a disaster occurs means that it was unpreventable in the pre-disaster period. Other phases such as mitigation and response occur during the trans-disaster period while recovery takes place post-disaster. The spatial concentration concept of disasters means that they occur at specific geographical locations (Lindell 2).

Volunteer – the word ‘volunteer’ is taken in this context to mean one who offers mostly unpaid assistance in the event of an emergency (Baxter-Tomkins 17). In most cases, volunteers are differentiated based on aspects such as gender, class, locality and cultural background. Volunteer commitments are characterized by explicit, irrevocable and public act carried out of the volunteer’s own volition. Further characteristics of this commitment are identified as continuance, cohesion and control. Continuance refers to the volunteer’s commitment to the achievement of long term existence by the hosting organization, cohesion refers to the value placed by the volunteer on the inter-personal ties created with the other members of the organization while control refers to the volunteer’s belief in the organization’s values (Baxter-Tomkins 18). These feature describe a volunteer completely in the general sense of the word. However, an emergency volunteer may have a slight variation in the definition.

Emergency Service Volunteer – these are volunteers that offer their services to the community through a host organization in the event of a disaster. They may be present during events such as fire outbreaks, earth quakes, landslides, e.t.c. where they provide the essential link between the volunteering organizations and the community that needs help. According to Lindell (18), several other definitions may exist for emergency service providers depending on the definite sector in which they offer their services.

Volunteer satisfaction – based on the concept of employee satisfaction, the aspect of volunteer satisfaction can be defined as the scenario where a volunteer feels a kind of pleasantness associated with the work he/ she is involved in. This can also be described as a condition where the volunteer’s most pressing needs have been met and thus the volunteer willingly offers his/ her services without expecting any reward in material terms (Lindell 18). In other words, volunteer satisfaction refers to the gratification associated with engaging in voluntary activity. Although most motivation that drives individuals to volunteer for emergency response services is in-built, several organizational management factors lead to the attainment of gratification in work. It is thus the responsibility of organizations’ managements to ensure their volunteers are satisfied thus keeping them in service (Maslow 390).

Motivation – employee motivation is the driving force behind exertive duty performance. In the work place, motivation depends on various factors such as employee satisfaction and the perception of a potential reward (Maslow 390). In the emergency volunteer context, motivation refers to the willingness to exert sufficient effort towards the achievement of a set of organizational objectives. This motivation depends to a large extent on various factors such as the inter-personal relationships with various stake holders of the host organization. In emergency volunteering the motivation of employees is driven by mostly intrinsic values. Being a multi-faceted phenomenon, its presence or absence depends on the prevailing conditions at any given time. It is however important to have motivated individuals in the team at all times to ensure effectiveness of the process.

Organization – An organization in the context of this paper refers to a group mandated to carry out emergency response activities within UAE. An example of such would be the Red Cross Society or the National Emergency Response Program. It is assumed that volunteers seeking groups will most likely join any of these as they deal directly with emergency response.

Recruited volunteers – these are volunteers with skills matching specific emergency response needs and who are thus allied to specific emerge response organizations (Fernandez et al 57). Recruited volunteers often work in association with other volunteers and with the organizations’ managements for the achievement of effective emergency response.

Psychological contract – these are the beliefs of the volunteering individual with regards to the terms and conditions associated with the voluntary position allocated. Alternatively, it may be defined as the belief system of workers as well as employers about their roles and responsibilities with regards the positions held. This aspect is important since productivity or effectiveness depends to a large extent on the beliefs held about the specific position. The exchanges that occur in an occupational set-up influence the experiences of both employees and managers and are in turn influenced by personal characteristics. Beliefs originate from perceived promises during recruitment and thrive on their accomplishment throughout the engagement period (Baxter-Tomkins 19).


 2.0 Introduction

In this chapter, an analysis of literature with relevance to various issues of importance to this study is carried out. The purpose of this is to obtain the requisite secondary information for the accomplishment of this paper’s objectives.

2.1 Motivating factors for volunteers in emergency response

Rice and Fallon (18) describe volunteer motivation as a function of several factors. They assert that volunteers frequently evaluate the possibility of tenure extension based on the rewards and costs involved in their involvement with emergency response organizations. According to these authors, the motivation of volunteers is based on the mobilization as well as expansion of interpersonal relations within the organization. Some of the specific factors that have been cited by Rice and Fallon as causing motivation in volunteers include: the desire to contribute to the community, community career enhancement and sharpening of professional skills, concerns about the community, the need for friendship and enlightened personal interest goals (18). Another factor also cited is recognition of efforts and acknowledgement for good performance (Rice and Fallon 19). As observed, these factors are mainly of a social nature given that no monetary rewards are given in voluntary positions.

Francis and Jones (2) opine that volunteering comes about as a result of personal drive to satisfy either reasoned or functional motives. A leading model mentioned by the authors is the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI), which cites six functional motives which frequently drive volunteer activity. The motives, as outlined by Francis and Jones include: values, protective, enhancement, understanding, career, and social motives (2). The values aspect of driving motives refers to the genuine concern for people in need that is held by the potential volunteers as well as the desire to help. The underlying values for voluntary emergency response may be based on benevolence, power or achievement. The protective goals are aimed at relieving one’s personal pressures and problems while the enhancement motives aim at increasing personal self esteem.

The understanding motive drives towards acquisition of knowledge about one’s own abilities, the disaster causes as well as the limitations of victims. Others also volunteer in order to expand and develop their career related skills and opportunities yet others aim at achieving positive social alignments through the creation of new friendships and relationships (Francis and Jones 2). Through comparison of the motives of volunteers based on the VFI, it is realized that volunteer motives are also dependent on other factors such as age, gender and social status. Older individuals are mainly motivated by the need for career development while younger ones desire association hence is driven by the need for friendship (Francis and Jones 4).

In determining the motivating factors for spontaneous volunteers, Barraket et al also realized that similar factors motivated both spontaneous and recruited volunteers. In Barraket et al (25), some of the factors that have been cited as been essential in the motivation of volunteers include; the need for career furtherance, identification with the problems related to disaster situations, involvement of family members in the disasters, opportunity to create lasting friendships and the belief that it is a moral objective for those in proximity to disaster victims to assist them (Barraket et al 26). These factors are supportive of previous works carried out for potential organized volunteers such as the already reviewed literature by various authors.

According to Aminizadeh et al (38), the multi-aspect model suffices for the determination of volunteer motivation. In the application of this model, the motivating factors are classified into value, cognitive, occupational, support, social and progress motives. These factors are however cited to operate differently for volunteers in the medical sector and in the other sectors. As was reported by Francis and Jones (4), the motivation of volunteers is also affected by several factors such as ethnicity, age, gender, culture and environmental factors. These factors play an important role in the determination of volunteer motivation factors.

For instance, Aminizadeh et al (38) also report that young individuals are mainly motivated to engage in voluntary work through occupational, social, altruistic, and understanding factors while older individuals are motivated by value and progress factors. Besides this, most volunteers are recorded to be females of high education levels. This is cited to be probably due to the willingness of females to engage in non-paying activities in comparison to males (Aminizadeh 38).

McLennan and Birch assert that different motivations arise for voluntary emergency service depending on the age and educational level of the volunteer (56). According to a research done by these authors, individuals mainly offered voluntary emergency response services in order to build their careers, to help others and to contrib.ute to the community welfare. Volunteers are mostly driven by altruistic motives. Others are however driven by egoistic motives. In altruism, the volunteers possess a genuine concern for the well fare of others while in egoism; the individuals are driven by personal concerns. Most college students are reported to volunteer based on moral obligations besides egoism and altruism.

According to McLennan and Birch, particular motivations drive particular forms of volunteering which serve particular functional objectives (56). In a research carried out to determine the motivation behind volunteering, it was found out that older individuals were motivated by a sense of their obligation to the society while younger individuals reported their motivation to be the chance to meet new people and make friends. The study by McLennan and Birch supports the various reports that have been obtained from previous studies. For instance, McLennan and Birch confirm the effectiveness of the VFI and the multi-aspect models in determination of volunteer motivation for engagement in voluntary emergency response services (56).

Volunteer motivation is therefore a multi-faceted concept that depends on age and other differentiating biases such as gender and cultural traditions.  The motivational factors for volunteers are similar across various emergency situations as well as volunteering modes.  The factors that motivate spontaneous volunteers also motivate recruited volunteers (Barraket et al 25). 

2.2 Effectiveness of Volunteers

The effectiveness of volunteers in any emergency depends on the effectiveness of the recruitment process.  A process that results in qualified and motivated volunteers leads to effective disaster management.  It is therefore essential that in trying to determine the effectiveness of volunteers, the aspects of recruitment, training and retention should be considered intensively (Atkinson and Smith par.  12). The only way to ensure retention of volunteers, who are in most cases unpaid is to uphold the satisfaction of their motivational factors.  In the recruitment process, the organizations should outline the gaps in volunteer skills so as to recruit only those who can fill the available skill gaps. 

The ramifications of failing to satisfy the required volunteer numbers and skills are described as dire by Baxter-Tomkins (73). One of these consequences is failure to achieve a satisfactory level of volunteer retention.  This may lead to reduced effectiveness in the event of an emergency due to a limited size of the available work force.  In addition to this, the reduced volunteer retention may lead to increased costs for the recruitment and training of new volunteers.  Baxter-Tomkins (74) describes this effect as cyclic since by reduced retention, the remaining work force may not be sufficient to undertake all the tasks associated with emergency response.  At the same time, it may lead to ineffectiveness associated with lack of skilled response.  This is due to the need for training of new recruits (Atkinson and Smith par.  14).

Baxter-Tomkins also opines that the organizational structure of an organization determines its effectiveness in emergency response.  The organizational management refers to the allocation of available resources to match the demands of emergency situations (80).  This can be achieved by aligning volunteer skill profiles to the available positions to ensure every volunteer only engages in activities in which they are proficient (Atkinson and Smith par.  16). Organizational management practices require that employees, whether paid or not should be assigned duties with which they are comfortable and in which they have the basic skills necessary (Atkinson and Smith par.  18)

The Point of Light Foundation outlines the factors necessary for the achievement of both organizational and non-profit partner effectiveness in emergency situations.  In this context, non-profit partners refer to the volunteers who are not paid for their roles in the organization.  As PLF (6) asserts, the management’s compliance with the adult learners theory, adapting a team approach to activity, strong support structures, availing financial resources, and process and outcome evaluation.  The adult learner theory is based on the knowledge that continued learning expands skills.  It is thus suggested that by complementing the practical and classroom skills possessed by the volunteers with provision of theoretical knowledge prior to engagement in any emergency response may help to hone skills to the demands of emergency situations (PLF 7). Since one of the factors that motivate volunteers is career development, an inclusion of this principle is most likely to result in improved effectiveness.  By adapting a team approach to response, several benefits related to connectedness can be achieved by volunteers.  For instance, volunteers get to learn from each other, they develop the spirit of team work, and can relate better to the organization’s managements (PLF 7).  All these contribute to effectiveness in the emergency response scenario.

Although employees may possess satisfactory technical skills, they may not necessarily possess the ability to apply these skills in any given situation.  Consequently, Point of Light Foundation recommends the engagement of consultancy and human resource services in the provision of support to employees (PLF 8). Atkinson and Smith (Par.  18) also confirm this contribution of strong support services to the effective delivery of emergency response services.  The management is tasked with organizing their people and directing them on how frequently and appropriately they should apply their skills to various scenarios.

According to Martinez and McMullin, volunteer efficacy depends on the willingness to volunteer (121). As discussed previously; the willingness to volunteer depends on the motives behind volunteering for different individuals.  Once an individual is willing to volunteer in any emergency scenario it becomes mandatory for the volunteer to operate by the rules of the parent organization.  Another factor that contributes a lot to volunteer efficacy is the competing commitments for the specific volunteer.  A high number of competing commitments results in lower efficacy since the volunteers’ attention is divided (Martinez and McMullin 122).  It is therefore necessary to understand this aspect prior to engaging in voluntary work.

2.3 Motivational Theory

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, human needs are hierarchical in nature, with the most essential occupying the lowest level of needs when arranged in a pyramid.  The satisfaction of these needs is supposedly in the order of occurrence in the needs hierarchy.  The lowest level of needs is occupied by the physiological needs or basic needs (Maslow 390) . These is followed by safety needs, love and belongingness, esteem needs and self actualization needs in that order.  These needs are represented diagrammatically as shown in the figure below.

Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (Baxter-Tomkins 113)

The motivational theory, suggests that people are driven to behave in a certain way due to the presence of some pressing unmet needs, and the belief that a given code of conduct may result in the satisfaction of this need.  As Baxter-Tomkins reports, the motivation of volunteers affects their drive to participate in an emergency response situation and consequently their effectiveness when they do participate (113). The needs for safety in the workplace and at home main drives people to work for promotion and professional development.

Apart from the needs for safety associated with the work place, individuals also need esteem.  This can come about through recognition; rewards for positive behavior, appreciation, and attention (Baxter-Tomkins 113). In the context of emergency response volunteering, individuals commonly cite poor management as a cause of ineffectiveness in employees.  Poor management can be portrayed through their negative impact on employee esteem.  It is therefore necessary that even in voluntary emergency service responses; organizational managers should take it as a personal responsibility to ensure the employees are motivated (Maslow 390).



3.1 Introduction

This chapter describes the various activities that will be carried out during this study.  This follows the intensive look into the existing literature concerning the subject of the study and is aimed at creating an understanding of the study process and thus confirming the validity of the study.  The chapter includes a description of the research tools, the mode of utilization of the tools, the data analysis process and the data collection modes.

3.2 Methodology

 In carrying out this study, a qualitative research method was applied.  The qualitative research method focuses on the feelings, the conveyed meanings to various results, the symbols associated with every word, the metaphors, characteristics of the respondents and the descriptions accorded to certain scenarios as reflected by the study (Grbich 16). This research is aimed at finding out the effectiveness of volunteers in an emergency response context in the UAE. This is based on the motivational factors behind voluntary work as well as on other concepts which affect the volunteer retention and efficacy in various  ways. Consequently, a qualitative research proves to be the best method of study as it assists in obtaining detailed personal information devoid of the generalization that is often associated with qualitative research (Grbich 17). 

Qualitative research is also inductive in that from the complete answer to a given question and from theoretical literature, one can make inclusive statements.  In addition, it is holistic as it takes into consideration entire human systems of communication (Anderson 22). Qualitative research also provides rich details concerning a chosen sample space, providing details into both the observable and non-observable characteristics of respondents.  It is thus an effective method of carrying out specific and personalized studies that can be used to draw useful conclusions. 

3.3 Data collection 

3.3.1 Primary Data

The primary data was collected based on the questionnaires.  This data was collected based on the grounded theory of qualitative research.  In this case, the data to be collected is determined by the research question at hand.  The data when analyzed should lead to a convergence at the required information.  To achieve this, respondents for the questionnaires were selected semi-randomly from potential qualified volunteers such as social work students, doctors, and educators e. t. c.

3.3.2 Secondary data

            The secondary data for the study was collected from existing literature regarding the relevance and effectiveness of volunteers in dealing with emergency situations.  The range of data collected included the motivational factors behind voluntary emergency response, the satisfaction of volunteers and the factors upon which the effectiveness of volunteers depended.  The data collected was to provide back-up and supportive information for the collected primary data in order to achieve efficient decision making. 

3.4 Sample Population

This choice of respondents was arrived at after consideration of various factors.  For instance, emergency cases do not arise on a daily basis thus it would be unwise to wait for an emergency situation to track down actual volunteers.  Secondly, organizations that bring together volunteers from all over the nation are not wide spread hence it would be difficult to use them to reach volunteers.  Besides, there was no guarantee that the volunteers would be around their respective organizational offices in the absence of emergencies.

The questionnaires were issued to 25 individuals, picked randomly from various courses of study, mainly social sciences, education and the health sector.  This choice was due to the relevance of these professions to several emergency situations and their tendency to volunteer more frequently.  The questionnaires were issued at random without any spatial or temporal organization or planning.  This is because the respondents could not be reached at the same time and thus the researcher administered the questionnaires as a potential respondent was identified.

The decision to issue 25 questionnaires was arrived at based on an expected response rate of 80 percent, which would result in 20 usable questionnaires. 

3.5 Research Tool

The main tool used in the study to capture relevant primary information was the research questionnaire.  The questionnaire was designed to contain open ended questions as these have the potential of attracting varied and highly personalized and relevant information.  This was to enable informed decision making based on the research questions at hand.  The questions were mainly focused on obtaining information regarding various factors that help in the motivation of volunteer, factors that affect their performance and factors that result into poor performance of volunteers.

The choice of the research tool was based on the availability of funds, the relevance of the tool to the current research context and the applicability of the research tool to emergency volunteers’ scenario.  In considering the availability of funds, it was ascertained that questionnaires are more cost effective compared to other research tools such as online surveys or face-to-face interviews.  They can also be administered randomly and locally without incurring travel and communication expenses.  Besides this, they do not involve intensive planning and prior organization.  In carrying out qualitative research, it was observed that questionnaires are also effective as they give the respondent the opportunity to engage in brainstorming to obtain most relevant responses to specific questions.

The first question in the questionnaire regards whether a given individual would volunteer to assist in an organized emergency response system.  Depending on the answer to this question, the individual may or may not proceed to the other questions.  The purpose for this was to ensure that only those who would be in an emergency team were involved in the study.

3.6 Data Analysis

After data collection, the acquired information was analyzed through various techniques.  In recursive abstraction, given data sets are summarized over and over again in order to come up with the best conclusion from the available data.  This method of analysis was selected for this research since the expected data from both questionnaires and literature was mostly qualitative.  It would thus be unreasonable to use coding which translates qualitative data into empirical data.  Besides this, the guiding research question is also one that deserves a qualitative answer rather than a quantitative one.

After the recursive abstraction, the summarized data was represented as summaries in terms of tables and charts for ease of reading since these media offer good visual appeal.  The data was then used in the discussion to make inductive conclusions based on observed response trends.

3.7 Ethical Considerations

In carrying out this study, several issues aroused ethical concern and were addressed as necessary.  First, in issuing out questionnaires; I had to seek permission from the institution administration to ensure that I was operating within legal confines.  This was to avoid carrying out illegal activities as the school regulations prohibit distribution of material/ literature without permission.

Secondly, the issue of confidentiality and impartiality in researcher was also raised.  In respecting the respondents’ confidentiality, I decided to carry out an anonymous research survey.  The only information required about the respondents was the course of study as this was the criterion upon which the decision to issue the questionnaire was based.  The basis of anonymity enabled the researcher to avoid impartialities that may have resulted in case other factors such as the ethnic identity of the respondents were defined.

In engaging the respondents, it is an ethical and moral obligation of the researcher to uphold the dignity and respect of every respondent.  To achieve this, I tried as much as possible to evaluate the potential impacts of my words and actions prior to delivering them.  Consequently I got to ask myself how I would feel if I was in the shoes of the respondents in particular treatments.

Also, another aspect that was considered in depth is honesty.  I had to give the potential respondents sufficient background information to enable them engage in the questionnaire survey without any doubts.  They had to know the purpose and subject of the study, the researcher and the factors influencing the choice of the research method.  All this was given out in clarity and under no compulsion or coercion.


4.1 Introduction

This chapter gives an overview of the results obtained from the research questionnaire responses. Recursive abstraction was used to realize the summarized data from the vast theoretical responses given to the open ended questions in the questionnaire. Among the respondents for this questionnaire, 40 percent confirmed that they had worked previously in an emergency situation as a volunteer. The remaining 60 percent had no prior experience in emergency response volunteer work but were willing to be engaged once an opportunity appeared.

4.2 Motivational Data

The questions aimed at finding out the motivational factors for volunteers to emergency response in the UAE include questions 2 and 4. In mentioning the motivating factors for voluntary work requested by question 2, approximately 50 percent of the respondents claimed that they thought helping in emergency response was a sign of patriotism i. e. They got to help their country, another 30 percent were motivated by altruism while the remaining 20 percent had motives based around career development and gaining experience in their fields of expertise. These results are as shown in the chart below.

Figure 2: Motivational factors for volunteers

In question 4, the factors that influence the ability of volunteers to do their best during emergencies are cited as experience and a sense of community involvement. These two factors were each mentioned by approximately 50 percent of the respondents.

4.3 Operational Effectiveness

The aspect of operational effectiveness was well captured in various questions. In question 3, respondents cited some of the skills they deemed necessary for effective volunteer operations. The skills mentioned include: awareness and social volunteering, first aid, fire fighting, search and rescue. In the application of skills to volunteering, most of the respondents preferred to be engaged in fields such as psychology, public safety, and administration while a few desired something technical such as engineering.

All the respondents confirmed that effective management is essential for effective volunteer work. In explaining this, they opined that although volunteers have an inbuilt drive and ability to perform, good management is required for the proper and productive coordination of volunteer activities. The respondents also agreed that engaging in team work during emergency response was essential since as 50 percent of the respondents claimed, it is for the sake of the country and community. Another 30 percent said they would engage in effective team work as it was noble while the other 20 percent could engage in teamwork as it was a chance to exercise their knowledge and capabilities.

While 70 percent of the respondents were certain that they would not be affected negatively in their deliveries by stress, the remaining 30 percent asserted that in the event of any observable negative impact of stress on their work, they would quit. Another factor that was cited as probably negative in voluntary work is negative criticism. 60 percent of the volunteers said their work would be affected negatively by negative criticism while the other 40 percent said they would feel inadequate and thus quit to give chance to a more capable person in the event of negative criticism.

70 percent of the volunteers suggested they would not undertake a task for which they are not qualified so as to avoid endangering both themselves and others. The other 30 percent however were of the opinion that in the event of an inadequate work force and proper guidance, they were willing to undertake tasks in which they had little or no skills. The trainings required prior to effective performance as described by the respondents include: special disaster management skills, first aid and volunteering ethics and human work principles. To be more proficient in these concepts surrounding volunteering in the emergency response system, the respondents suggested taking refresher courses as well as field training and mock exercises.

Other factors that were cited as capable of influencing the performance of volunteers include: various limitations as depicted in the chart below, family influence (Approximately 50 percent of the volunteers agreed that their families would support their bid to volunteer, 30 percent made it clear that since they were above 18 years old, the decision to volunteer was personal while the remaining 20 percent had never asked their families). Inter-personal differences such as disabilities and ethnicity did not play a role in determining the effectiveness of the emergency response volunteers’ work.

Figure 3: Factors Limiting Volunteer Effectiveness

Although most volunteers did not feel that providing monetary compensation could result in greater efficacy, they suggested some of the possible means of attracting more volunteers and retaining the existing ones. Some of the suggested means include: media engagement, social activities, certified trainings, recognition and associated awards, creation of a loyalty program and supporting volunteers. 


5. 1 Introduction

This chapter aims at expounding on the results obtained in the context of the current research questions and reaching a viable conclusion based on this analysis.

5.2 Motivation of Volunteers

The importance of motivation in ensuring the effectiveness of the volunteers during emergency response was observed and the factors that result in the motivation and subsequent satisfaction of volunteers in the course of the service also noted. From the motivational theory point of view, the role of motivation is to create an impression that an existing need can be satisfied by carrying out a given activity satisfactorily. Volunteers have various motives behind the decision to volunteer. These motives are all needs that if satisfied by the provision of emergency services, the volunteers become motivated to perform even better. The motivating factors for volunteers’ engagement in emergency response have been identified from both the literature study and the survey questionnaire responses.

From the literature review, the motives behind volunteering have been identified as being categorized into 6 major groups described by the Volunteer Functions Inventory as values, protective, enhancement, understanding, career, and social motives (Francis and Jones 2).  At the same time, other literatures also provide the multi aspect model to volunteer motivation. According to this perspective, the motivating factors behind volunteer engagement include: value, cognitive, occupational, support, social and progress motives. In either model, the motivational effects of these factors are also dependent on the demographic profile of the volunteers. Factors such as age and gender also influence motivation of volunteers.

The questionnaire on the other hand, described the motivational factors as being based on three categories which are patriotism, altruism and occupational. While both altruism and patriotism can be taken to originate from the volunteers individual values, the underlying factors to them may be classified under value, cognitive and support factors in the Volunteer Value Inventory. The occupational motives clearly match career in this model. Consequently, the survey results can thus be said to be in support of already existing literature regarding the subject of volunteer motivation. In voluntary involvement, a lack of motivation can be detrimental to an organization since volunteer retention then becomes a difficult hurdle to surmount. The effectiveness of the entire emergency response system depends on the availability of reliable workers.

5. 3 Role of Management in Volunteer Effectiveness

From the questionnaire responses, it was found out that all volunteers considered sound management imperative in achieving effectiveness in the volunteer work. The respondents outlined the role of management as the coordination of various functions towards the achievement of collective objectives. This is in line with the literature opinions that the management has the responsibility of recruiting skilled volunteers, training them and deploying them to matching job descriptions. As outlined in the literature by Atkinson and Smith (par.  12), the volunteers may possess skills but without guidance, it is not possible for them to effectively allocate themselves responsibilities. Besides this, without effective distribution of labor, the effectiveness of the emergency response service based on volunteers is a dream that cannot be achieved.

5. 4 Effectiveness of using Volunteers

Volunteers are mainly driven by their passion for a particular career direction. This passion commonly drives volunteers to participate with eagerness and to immerse themselves completely in their cause. Consequently, it is important to ensure that this passion constantly burns within the volunteers. From the responses given to the questionnaire, it was observed that monetary compensation does not play an important role in ensuring effectiveness of the process. On the other hand, the volunteers achieve effectiveness in their activities through engagement in tasks in which they are skilled only, working without being affected by discriminatory stances, giving way when they feel under pressure, and only working where they are recognized and appreciated.

It is the responsibility of the management to ensure that the recruited volunteers are given the required skills through effective training and offering refresher courses as well as mock exercises. This gives volunteers the necessary experience in dealing with emergency scenarios hence improving their effectiveness. In addition to this, the management is tasked with identifying the skills possessed by various volunteers and assigning responsibilities based on the skills requires.


6. 1 Conclusion

6.1.1 Research Hypotheses

This study has been instrumental in answering our research questions. As regards the study hypotheses, the following conclusions can be made.

H1: The motivating factors for engagement in voluntary work are mainly intrinsic.

The motivational factors behind engagement in volunteer emergency have been found out to be mainly intrinsic. The factors such as values, career development, cognitive aspects, the desire for progress and social recognition are all developed within an individual and their influence on volunteer motivation varies depending on age, gender and ethnicity.   The influence of age has however been recognized as being the most significant with older individuals seeking career progress while younger ones tend to be motivated by the need to build their social associations.

H2: Factors that affect the attitude of volunteers in their duties are related more to the management than to the volunteers’ families.

One of the factors that have been recognized as playing an important role in the maintenance of a positive attitude in volunteers and subsequently leading to a realization of greater retention potential is the effectiveness of management. The management should be one that recognizes the efforts of volunteers and rewards them for the good works performed. The management also affects the effectiveness of the emergency response process through tactical recruitments that result in a skilled labour force.

H3: using volunteers with special skills results in process efficiency due to the intrinsic motivation possessed by volunteers.

Although using skilled volunteers is a contributing factor to efficacy, it is necessary that the volunteers are assigned duties that match their skills. This is to avoid risking the lives of both victims and the volunteers themselves.

H4: The management has the responsibility of ensuring volunteer satisfaction is achieved under all circumstances.

Several ways exist for ensuring the satisfaction of volunteers. These methods which include provision of certified training, award of outstanding volunteers and offering volunteer support services can result in the accomplishment of some of the volunteers’ motives thus ensuring their satisfaction.

6. 1. 2 Limitations of the Study

Although this research has been instrumental in filling an existing knowledge gap, its major limitation lies on the narrow scope of the study. It does not take into consideration government factors and availability of resources as possibly influential in the motivation of volunteers and subsequently in the effectiveness of using volunteers in emergency response.

Another limitation of this research is that it is based on a limited sample size hence the views obtained about the issues in question are limited. This may affect the validity of the data particularly in terms of effectiveness of volunteers in emergency situation. However, this limitation only arises when the individual answers are constrained in their meanings.

6.1.3 Implication

The findings of this study imply that in achieving the desired goal of effective volunteering, it is necessary that various issues should be addressed first. The key issue here is that volunteer motivation forms the foundation for effective volunteering. To achieve this, organizations need to put in place strategies that appeal to the intrinsic nature of volunteer motivation. This is to ensure that besides attracting new volunteers, the organizations also retain their volunteers.

6. 2 Recommendations

Having identified the issues surrounding the effectiveness of volunteer use in emergency situation, it is recommended that Sanid and other volunteer organizations across the UAE should take initiative into carrying out research tailored to specific organizational structures so as to achieve effectiveness in the use of their recruited volunteers through effective management. This will go a long way in motivating more people to volunteer to those organizations and to be retained periodically.

Secondly, academic institutions can also play a role in mitigation of disasters by engaging in informative research that aim at determining the effectiveness of volunteers in emergency response situations and subsequently communicating their findings to the masses. This is because it has been found out that lack of information also contributes to the low volunteer turn out in disaster management organizations. The institutions may also assist by helping organizations in the provision of technical support to volunteer recruitment organizations.

Moreover, the managements of disaster management organizations should work together with unaffiliated volunteers during disasters in a way that enables them to recognize talent and passion in volunteering so that they can identify and recruit those whose skills match the needs of the organizations. This is because most of those who engage in unaffiliated volunteering activities do so due to lack of knowledge about volunteer organizations.

To improve effectiveness, organizations uniting volunteers should create standard methods for recruitment; training and timely deployment of volunteers to ensure that volunteers are used effectively during the process. This may lead to a selection of the most skilled and passionate volunteers. Besides, it may also assist in matching the volunteer skills to the available opportunities, as well as to the disaster situations at hand.


Works Cited

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Anderson, J. Qualitative and Quantitative research. Imperial COE.2006.

Atkinson, Bruce and Ken Smith. Managing Emergency Services Volunteers. Retrieved from

Barraket, Jo, Robyn Keast, Cameron Newton, Kristy Walters and Emily James. Spontaneous Volunteering During Natural Disasters. Working Paper. June 2012. Retrieved from

Baxter-Tomkins, Anthony. Affiliation, commitment and identity of volunteers in the NSW Rural Fire and State Emergency Services. PhD Thesis. Southern Cross University, NSW. 2011.

Dhanhani, Hamdan, Angus Duncan and David Chester. United Arab Emirates: Disaster Management with Regard to Rapid Onset Natural Disasters. IGI Global. 2010. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-987-3.ch005

Emirates Foundation for youth Development. The UAE National Emergency Response Volunteer Program.

Fernandez, Lauren, Joseph Barbera and Johan Van Dorp. Spontaneous Volunteer Response to Disasters: The Benefits and Consequences of Good Intentions. Journal of Emergency Management 4. 5(2006):57-68.

Francis, Jullie and Michael Jones. Emergency Service Volunteers: A Comparison of Age, Motives and Values. The Australian Journal of Emergency Management 27. 4(2012): 23-28. Retrieved from

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This questionnaire comprises of 16 questions only and is intended to aid in determining the effectiveness of using volunteers in emergency management processes.  The questions are formed based on the theory that motivation and personal drive are key aspects in the productivity of individuals.

Would you work as a volunteer in emergency response scenarios? This question is to determine the willingness of the respondent to engage in voluntary work.  Those who agree proceed to the other questions.

  1. Do you have any experience in working in disaster response?


  • What would motivate you to work as a volunteer in an emergency response unit? You may define specific features of voluntary work


  • What qualities and skills do you find desirable in a volunteer? Describe set of skills and areas of interest


  • What do think influences volunteers to give their best in an emergency situation?


  •  Does the management effectiveness play a role in volunteer efficacy? If so, describe the possible impact of effective management.


  • Why do you believe you would be an effective team player in the emergency response team? Indicate reasons for interest in voluntary emergency response as well as level of interest in emergency response


  • How does criticism affect your work and attitude towards voluntary work?


  • How would you cope with stressful situations such as dealing with a difficult evacuee?


  • Have you ever been, in an emergency situation where you needed help or know someone who has been a victim of an emergency situation? If so, how has it impacted on your attitude towards voluntary work?


  1. What kind of training would you need prior to engaging in voluntary emergency response? How would you ensure you receive quality training before assignment?


  1. How would you take a task for which you were not properly trained?


  1. Would you have issues with providing assistance to an individual who is a member of another culture, minority group, or one with a mental, developmental or emotional disability? If yes, please explain. 


  1. Would your family assent to your engagement in voluntary emergency response?


  1. What potential limitations do you foresee in engaging in voluntary emergency response services?


  1. Do you feel compensation of volunteers can increase the effectiveness of the disaster management process? If so, please describe how this would result


  1. What do you suggest that volunteer organizations incorporate in their activities in order to attract more volunteers?