M. Zinkanel, J.E. Kerschenbauer, J. Soos, A. Bauer, B.M. Zunk

Graz University of Technology (AUSTRIA)
Associations of students are an important part of a university because multidisciplinary knowledge can be fixed with practical experience without hierarchical borders. One of these students’ associations is the Students Group of the Austrian Association of Industrial Engineering and Management (AAIEM) at Graz University of Technology (TUG), which is one of the founding members of the association of the European Students of Industrial Engineering and Management (ESTIEM). The students associations of AAIEM retain knowledge, but they have problems to recruit new members to develop and create the future within the ESTIEM.

There are many possibilities to engage people to join an association, for example to address their motivation. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to answer the following research question: What motivates students to join a university association?

To answer the research question stated, a literature review was conducted. In literature the primary focus is on different models like Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs, the Two Factors Theory with the Hygiene- and Motivator-Factors or the distinction between intrinsic motives such as the warm glow feeling if you help someone and the extrinsic motives such as money.

Based on the literature review the following aspects were discovered: the demographic structure, described with age, ethnic background, religion and social background. Interestingly, age was the only aspect that united the majority of the students at TUG. In addition the literature review discovered some unique traits of the target group, i.e. – the Millennials. Millennials are people who are born between 1980 and 1995. However, the factor age alone is insufficient to describe the motives of students at TUG who have joined a university association. Hence, to obtain further data of the target group, a survey study was conducted, which analysed 716 questionnaires.

The findings of the survey show that there are no differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motives. However, the motives of students differ according to the study programme. This clearly indicates that associations have to know their target group to address the right motives and thus to successfully recruit new members. Still, they always have to keep in mind that motivation varies by the dynamic change of the demographic structure of the students. With these findings the AAIEM should be able to create specific recruiting guidelines.