Details of Thesis

Title An ethnographic study of the work environment of an aid organisation
Author Abboud, Pauline
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2010
Abstract The working environment of an aid organisation generally has fewer benefits than in the commercial sector, so why do well trained and presumably well qualified people work for an aid organisation rather than a corporation which could provide them with better remunerations and a more comfortable work environment? What is it about the work environment of an aid organisation that attracts them? The focus of this study was to answer these questions. This involved examining the social milieu of the work environment in order to identify the dynamics of the work environment that produced a committed and productive team of employees. It also sought to examine the shortfalls that staff members identified as lowering their satisfaction levels with the work environment. Ten World Vision Australia employees were interviewed and asked about various aspects of their work environment focussing on the interaction between themselves and their work milieu. This included an analysis of their views on management style and practices, conflict resolution, policies of World Vision Australia, and their reasons for applying for a position and continuing to work at World Vision Australia. This analysis provided a picture of the World Vision Australia work environment which was further enhanced by examining research literature into the importance of “culture” in the workplace and employee well being. An important factor to emerge from the literature was the concept of “solidary”, which encompasses an employee’s desire to subscribe to a particular collective or group identity. Solidary explains how some shortfalls of a work environment are overlooked for the sake of more important aspects of it. The interviews revealed that some aspects of the work environment of World Vision Australia are healthy and productive, while others require diligence from management particularly as it responds to the changing demands placed on the International Aid sector. World Vision Australia has a low staff turnover which indicates that employees choose to stay at World Vision Australia despite non-competitive monetary rewards. The results from the analysis indicate that the work environment is healthy and accommodates the emotional, ethical and familial needs of employees. The specific culture that is engendered by management is a key element in the satisfaction of employees, with “solidary” being an important factor in this.
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