Innovation, and Institutions
The individual urge to extend one’s responsibility for social change beyond mandated or formal duties is far more pervasive than is generally assumed. However, not each individual with such an urge takes voluntary initiatives. In still fewer cases are initiatives transformed into innovations. Only rarely are innovations institutionalized in society.
This chapter is based primarily on a review of literature and my personal experience of more than fifteen years in the field of rural development and my involvement in extensive interactions with voluntary organizations and volunteers working in public and private commercial organizations. My contention is that the literature on voluntary organizations or NGOs has neglected the scope of voluntarism that exists among professionals working in mainstream organizations. Thus, I distinguish the phenomenon of voluntarism from the actions of voluntary organization. Given the fact that problems of rural development in India are complex and widespread, isolated initiatives of voluntary organizations (volags) may not be able to bring about large-scale social change. There is a need for linking the organizational space that volags provide with the urge for change among developmental volunteers (DVs). The DVs work in various organizations but find only limited opportunity for the creative expression of their urge to relate to socially disadvantaged groups. Donor agencies have also given lesser attention to developmental voluntarism than they have to NGOs in developing countries. Public and private organizations cannot sustain support to voluntary organizations in the long run without nurturing voluntarism among a minority of employees within.
The first section of this chapter traces the roots of voluntarism in the context of Indian culture. The second section reviews the trends in the growth of voluntary organizations... [continues]
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