Professor Karen Smith

Prof Karen Smith profile picture

Associate Dean Teaching & Learning School of Management


Teaching in 2019

Research interests

volunteers, volunteer management, event management


Karen is a Professor in Tourism Management. Much of her research concerns volunteers and their management in the tourism and events sectors, and more broadly in non-profit organisations in areas as diverse as health, emergency management, and conservation. She is interested in why and how people give time to support a range of causes, and how organisations in the community and voluntary sector (and beyond) respond to and maximise the impact of these donations of time.

Specific areas of research interest include event volunteering, recruitment and selection of volunteers, the career paths and professional development of managers of volunteers, and approaches to valuing volunteers.

Recent research projects have included a study of the volunteering infrastructure legacy of the Sydney 2000 and London 2012 Olympic Games (funded by the International Olympic Committee), and a project on the experiences and legacies of Rugby World Cup 2011 volunteers (funded by Sport New Zealand).

Karen's other research interests include future studies (specifically the future of events and festivals, and the future of volunteering, philanthropy and the not-for-profit sector), event management, literary and film tourism, and student employability and co-curricular activities.

She is co-Editor of Third Sector Review journal, and is on the Executive Boards of CAUTHE (Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education) and ANZTSR (Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research Inc.).

Karen received a University Teaching Excellence Award in 2013. She teaches on the BTM and BTM(Hons)/MTM programmes, supervises MTM and PhD theses, and coordinates the MBA Non-profit Advisory Project.

In 2014 Karen completed a University Learning and Teaching Fund project with Victoria Careers and Employment investigating enhancing student employability through extra-curricular activities and the Victoria Plus Programme.

Karen is Vice-Chairperson of Volunteering New Zealand, volunteers as a Wellington City Ambassador, and regularly works with not-for-profit organisation to deliver professional development training to those managing volunteers and promoting volunteerism.

Karen has been at Victoria University since 2003 and is originally from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north-east of England. She previous taught at the University of Greenwich in London, and completed her PhD at Nottingham Trent University; this focused on the management of volunteers at heritage attractions in the UK.

Areas of potential PhD supervision

Volunteer Management (in tourism and events, and more broadly in non-profit and public sector organisations)
Event Management
Human Resource Management in Tourism
Tourism Distribution Channels

PhD supervison

Karen is currently supervising Hongxia Qi and Jharna Joshi

Recent publications


Smith, K.A., Lockstone-Binney, L., Holmes, K. and T. Baum (2014) (Eds.) Event Volunteering: International perspectives on the event volunteering experience. Routledge Advances in Event Research Series. Routledge.

Yeoman, I., Robertson, M., McMahon-Beattie, Backer, E. and Smith, K.A. (2014) (Eds.) The Future of Events and Festivals. Routledge Advances in Event Research Series. Routledge.

Yeoman, I., Hsu, K., Smith, K.A. and Watson, S. (2010) Tourism and Demography. Goodfellows Publishing.

Holmes, K. and Smith, K.A. (2009) Managing Volunteers in Tourism: attractions, destinations and events. Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.

Baum, T., Deery, M., Hanlon, C., Lockstone, L. and Smith, K. (2009) (Eds.) People and Work in Events and Conventions: a research perspective. CABI.

Other publications

Lockstone-Binney, L., Holmes, K., Smith, K., Baum, T. and Storer, C. ‘Are all my volunteers here to help out? Clustering event volunteers by their motivations’ Event Management, 19 (2015), pp.461-477. Doi: 10.3727/152599515X14465748512605

Robertson, M., Yeoman, I., Smith, K.A. and McMahon-Beatty, U. ‘Technology, society, and visioning the future of music festivals’ Event Management, 19 (2015), pp.567-587. Doi: 10.3727/152599515X14465748774001

Cordery, C., Smith, K.A. and Proctor-Thomson, S. ‘Staff and volunteers’ perceptions of the Volunteer Programme: an alternative use of the Net Benefits Index’ Voluntary Action Research, 6, 2 (2015), pp.173-191.

Ong, F., Lockstone-Binney, L., King, B. and Smith, K.A. ‘The future of volunteer tourism in the Asia-Pacific region: alternative prospects’ Journal of Travel Research. 53, 6 (2014) pp.680-692.

Schänzel, H. A. and Smith, K. A. ‘The socialization of families away from home: group dynamics and family functioning on holiday’, Leisure Sciences, 36, 2 (2014), pp.126-143.

Yeoman, I., Schänzel, H. A., & Smith, K. A. ‘A sclerosis of demography: How ageing populations lead to the incremental decline of New Zealand tourism’ Journal of Vacation Marketing. 19, 2 (2013) pp.89-100.

Cordery, C.J., Proctor-Thomson, S., and Smith, K.A. ‘Towards communicating the value of volunteers: Lessons from the field’ Public Money & Management. 33, 1 (2013), pp.47-54.

Smith, K. A., & Holmes, K. ‘Visitor centre staffing: Involving volunteers’ Tourism Management. 33 (2012), pp.562-568 doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2011.06.010


Teaching in 2019