Kai Zhao

Kai Zhao


2020 – present, PGR,  Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, UK

2017 – 2019, MSc International Events and Conference Management, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

2011 – 2015, BSc Accounting and Finance, China


Working Experience

2022, Teaching assistant, Organisational Behaviour in Practice, LUBS, UK

2018 – 2019, Events assistant (one-year placement), Mercure Sheffield St Paul's Hotel & Spa, UK

2014 – 2015, Auditor, Ruihua Accounting Firm, China

Research interests

My principal research interest is volunteer management, particularly the field of student volunteering, (strategic) human resource management. My research is to investigate the working practices and dynamics between student volunteers and the strategic management systems they work within.

Student volunteers as unique human resources play a key role in assisting organisations’ missions, reflecting the potential for employing SHRM theories to shed light on the student volunteering phenomenon. Most existing volunteer management literature has attempted to utilise (strategic) HRM frameworks and quantitative methods to investigate the link between implemented HRM practices and performance, however, they greatly neglect the distinctive non-employment mechanism of voluntary work and complex contextual factors in shaping HRM practice planning and implementation. A qualitative approach thus necessitates interpreting the underlying reasons for transferring HRM practices initially prescribed in the employment relationship into the volunteer realm. The three research questions are: 

RQ1: What motives and contextual factors affect students participating in volunteering activities within the university?

RQ2: What HRM practices do university employees utilise to manage student volunteers, and how are they geared strategically with organisational requirements?

RQ3: How are HRM practices perceived by volunteers, and how do they work in practice?

This proposed research has the potential to contribute to the knowledge of volunteer management and SHRM theory. It aims to paint a more comprehensive picture of how HRM practices are implemented in managing student volunteers while taking the motivational and contextual factors into account. The other unique contribution is to provide in-depth interpretations of how and why non-profit/voluntary organisations and managers conceive volunteer-tailored HR practices at a strategic level, compared with most pre-existing studies merely concentrated on volunteers’ perceptions of implemented HR practices. Moreover, it can contribute to the limited qualitative and longitudinal studies in the field of volunteer management.


  • MSc International Events and Conferences Management, Sheffield Hallam University
  • BSc Accounting and Finance, China