Date of Graduation

Spring 2020


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Carrisa Hoelscher


This thesis examined the prescribed culture and prescribed network of a national nonprofit organization to better understand organizational exit and retention. This nonprofit organization has teams of long-term volunteers that serve in various schools throughout the country, but one Midwest location served as the site of this study. Because this organization has a clearly defined prescribed culture and organizational network, it is an interesting site for data collection. Through two rounds of interviews with ten members from various school teams, I was able to identify key issues that affected members’ decisions to stay with or leave the organization. The data gathered showed that members who identified highly with the organization, its culture, and its network were more likely to functionally exit the organization. However, if members did not highly identify with the organization, they were more likely either to leave before their service year ended (i.e., dysfunctional exit) or to cope through the creation of an emergent culture, thus leading to functional exit. This research will help nonprofit organizations reevaluate their prescribed and emergent cultures to better retain volunteers, leading to the organizational goal of functional exit.


organizational exit, nonprofit communication, organizational culture, organizational communication, network communication, emergent network, prescribed network, prescribed culture, espoused culture, emergent culture

Subject Categories

Organizational Communication


© Michaela Lauren Sees Plummer

Open Access