Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication Department


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science Major: Leadership Education Under the Supervision of Professor Mark Balschweid Lincoln, Nebraska May, 2010 Copyright 2010 Adam K Peters


Psychological empowerment has been thoroughly studied in the workplace context. Volunteerism has also been thoroughly studied through a multitude of different facets. However, little research could be found bridging the empowerment construct into volunteerism. Therefore, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the experience of empowerment among volunteers. Volunteer empowerment was discovered through four primary themes, make a difference, rewarding, lifestyle of service, and passion, and three secondary themes, autonomy, awareness, and ability. Other relevant findings included and revolved around volunteer time and balance, challenges, propelling forces, and getting started. Current literature was reviewed and incorporated into the findings of this study. Themes were integrated into a visual display – the empowerment wheel – which shows the experience and scope of volunteer empowerment found in this study. Implications for literature and for practitioners were discussed. Future research directions from this study are vast and were included as part of this study.