A modern day panopticon: using power and control theory to manage volunteer tourists in Bolivia

Jamie Thompson, Ross Curran, Kevin D. O'Gorman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
520 Downloads (Pure)


Volunteer tourism literature is yet to examine the impact of power and control practices on volunteer tourist compliancy. This paper contributes to closing this research gap by proposing and testing a new theoretical model of power and control practices. Drawing upon the previously un-synthesized theoretical contributions of Foucault (1979) and French & Raven (1959), the model presents power and control practices identified in the extant organizational literature. Using an auto-ethnographic approach, data was collected within a Bolivian volunteer-host community. Examination of results suggested mutually beneficial volunteer-host working relationships occur under ‘softer’ management practices. Our findings also offer insight into the salience of using reward-based management strategies as a control mechanism, as well as identifying two new control practices that emerged empirically. The research suggests several implications for the management of host communities towards creating more harmonious, efficient, and effective working relationships between volunteer tourists and hosts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalTourism Management Perspectives
Early online date9 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Volunteer tourism
  • Power and control
  • Volunteer management
  • Bolivia


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