1 The Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University2 Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University
What features of institutional change do voluntary organisations contain? This question is debated in the civil society literature, but often under different headlines, like social entrepreneurship or social movement theory. The question of voluntarism is often not taken into account. This paper builds upon the premise that institutional dynamic is connected to peoples ability to act according to their free will. But only in the ideal version are they able to make a complete connection between free will and action. This is also the case for volunteers. The loose-coupled connection to the organisation may give volunteers special opportunities to choose, not only where and when, but also how they will perform. But in praxis the volunteer's ability to perform is structured by the institutional settings of the specific voluntary organisation as well as the organisational field of voluntary organisations. I establish a theoretical frame of institutional dynamic, build primarily on J.G. March's theory on exploration and exploitation. I focus on two organisational arrangements drawn from the theory: The degree of strategic decision-making and the degree of diversity among the volunteers. I use this theoretical frame to analyse case studies of three voluntary organisations. As a part of the analysis I describe four sets of institutional settings that can influence voluntary organisations ability to create institutional dynamic: institutionalization, moderation, self-organisation and loose-coupling.