How are volunteers who provide assistance to refugees socialized into their organizations? Known as the process through which newcomers evolve from organizational outsiders into insiders, socialization is particularly crucial among volunteers, as they often help vulnerable groups such as refugees. To examine this issue, which is critical to both scholars and practitioners, we draw on a large-scale qualitative study conducted in France and Australia. Based on triangulated data from 42 in-depth interviews, 17 hours of participant observations and document analysis, we shed light on the socialization of volunteers. We identify a three-stage process during which volunteers become insiders: (i) familiarizing with the role; (ii) bonding with the group; and (iii) embedding into the organization. Each stage consists of tactics, learning domains, emotions and outcomes that are particularly salient to the volunteer experience. With only slight differences between the two countries, our model extends organizational socialization theory by uncovering a process that allows volunteers to feel confident in their role, integrated into their team and part of a larger purpose. We also contribute to debates on volunteer management by highlighting organizational tactics that fit the volunteer experience.

DOI: 10.1177/00187267211006451
ISSN: 0018-7267