Students' vocational choices and voluntary action: A 12-nation study

Debbie Haski-Leventhal, Ram A. Cnaan, Femida Handy, Jeffrey L. Brudney, Kristen Holmes, Lesley Hustinx, Chulhee Kang, Meenaz Kassam, Lucas C.P.M. Meijs, Bhagyashree Ranade, Naoto Yamauchi, Anne Birgitta Yeung, Sinisa Zrinscak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research on student involvement suggested that business and engineering students manifest lowest rates of voluntary action. Similarly, it was thought that social science students are the most involved in voluntary action, with students of natural sciences and humanities in the middle. However, there were very few studies that empirically compared these assertions. Furthermore, these assertions were not investigated from cross-cultural perspectives. Based on a study of students in 12 countries (N = 6,570), we found that even when controlling for background variables, social science students are actually less engaged in voluntary action than other students. Engineering students are higher than expected on voluntary action while students of humanities are the most involved in voluntary action. When studying these differences in the 12 selected countries, local cultures and norms form different sets of findings that suggest that there is no universal trend in choice of academic field and voluntary action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Cross-cultural research
  • Educational choice
  • Students
  • Vocational choice
  • Voluntary action
  • Volunteering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management


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