International volunteers (IVs) are promoted as catalysts for change in development cooperation. However, little is known about what makes them successful in generating positive changes in developing communities.
The present study proposed an affective measure of competencies for IVs and longitudinally examined the relationship between their competencies and volunteer performance such as perceived achievement and outcomes for counterpart organizations. Using panel survey data on the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), a series of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses identified three distinct correlated factors which correspond to each of the predicted key competencies, initiative for challenge, intercultural negotiation, and project management under stress. Tests of longitudinal measurement invariance on these measures established partial scalar invariance, indicating that their factor structure is mostly stable over three measurement times: before, during and after volunteering.
A series of hierarchical linear regression analyses showed that all three competencies predicted perceived volunteer achievement and/or outcomes for counterpart organizations but at different stages of volunteering. The study also found that these competencies declined toward the end of the first year overall, and then increased toward the end of the volunteer service. Implications for practice are discussed.
Keywords: Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), competency, international volunteers, volunteer outcomes, measurement, non-cognitive skills