Individualistic Motivation of Citizens Participating in Civil Society Organizations

  • Rigita Tijunaitiene Siauliai University
  • Sigitas Balciunas Siauliai University
Keywords: civil society organizations, participation, individualistic motivation for participation, motives, Social Exchange Theory, participation costs, Mutual Incentives Theory.


Issues of participation are very closely related to motivation. Citizens’ motivation for participation in civil society organizations can have both individualistic and collectivistic trend, therefore the results of the carried out research that are presented in this article have also been analyzed according to the two trends mentioned. This article presents the part of the results – those that were obtained having generalized the motivation for participation of citizens of Lithuania in the aspect of expression of individualistic motives. Such a choice was made because the results of research on motivation of collectivistic trend have been presented in previous publications (see Tijunaitiene, Neverauskas, Balciunas, 2009a, b; Tijunaitiene, Neverauskas, 2009; Tijunaitiene, 2009b). The research employed mixed strategy – triangulation: first, by making use of quantitative methodology by Simmons and Birchall (2003, 2004a, b, 2005) it was attempted to identify individualist and collectivist stimuli that determine people’s motivation for participation in civil society organizations. Then it was tried to gauge the expression of motivation according to different socialdemographic characteristics and to systematically analyze the results obtained. The results of quantitative research having been obtained, we decided to conduct one more, additional qualitative research in order to validate the results of another research (quantitative in this case). Therefore an in-depth semi-structured expert interview was carried out. Motivation for participation is explicated by Mutual Incentives Theory (MIT) developed by Simmons and Birchall (2003, 2004a, b, 2005) and used as quantitative methodology for this research. The theory combines two sociopsychological theories of motivation: individualistic and collectivistic. Thus, the theory encompasses both individualistic and collectivistic incentives. The individualistic stimuli are expressed in MIT in terms of benefit and investment. The most important concepts in the theory of individualistic trend (social exchange) are psychological and economic rewards (benefits) as well as psychological and economic losses that are named by different authors by terms of investments, costs or losses. Therefore this theory of individualistic trend is based on idea that the process of social exchange takes place because of estimated and calculated benefit that an individual expects from relationship. The results of the empirical research have confirmed that rational choice approach which social exchange theory is also based on is implemented within the structure of incentives for those participating in civil society organizations, i.e., people participate partially because of the anticipated and calculated benefit that an individual expects from the exchange. However, for respondents the costs of participation are less important than the benefit they receive from it. Therefore the investments of time as well as conditional financial and other investments are not an obstacle to participation, though these are clearly identified by those who are active and participate.