A Comprehensive Interpretation of Voluntary and Under-Remunerated Work

  • Carlo Borzaga
Part of the AIEL Series in Labour Economics book series (AIEL)


The aim of the essay is to contribute to development of an unitary interpretation of the supply of labour in nonprofit organizations. The paper shows that agents supply their labour on the basis of a mix of motivations, whose composition is influenced by numerous personal, cultural, and vocational factors. Empirical and experimental analyses, and especially research on under-remunerated workers in nonprofit organizations with an explicit social mission, show that volunteers are also driven by self-regarding preferences, while remunerated workers may have preferences that are different from the maximization of immediate or deferred monetary income. It is possible to take account of this pluralism of motivations and agents by modifying the utility function so that it includes all the different types of motivation. The resulting allocation of workers and volunteers among sectors and enterprises can therefore be considered efficient also in the presence of individuals who are not paid or who are systematically paid less than others.


Utility Function Labour Supply Intrinsic Motivation Nonprofit Organization Social Preference 



The ideas set out in the article result from joint reflection with various colleagues within the Department and elsewhere, and in particular with Sara Depedri, Luigi Bonatti, Ermanno Tortia, Luigi Mittone, Maurizio Pugno, Marco Musella and Maurizio Carpita. I am particularly grateful to Sara Depedri, who helped greatly to improve the article in all its parts. However, responsibility for errors or omissions remains mine alone.


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Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlo Borzaga
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Trento and European Institute for Cooperative and Social EnterpriseTrento

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