To give or not to give professional services to non-paying clients: professionals’ giving backstory

McColl-Kennedy, J. R., Patterson, P. G., Brady, M. K., Cheung, L. and Nguyen, D. (2015) To give or not to give professional services to non-paying clients: professionals’ giving backstory. Journal of Service Management, 26 3: 426-459. doi:10.1108/JOSM-07-2014-0194

Author McColl-Kennedy, J. R.
Patterson, P. G.
Brady, M. K.
Cheung, L.
Nguyen, D.
Title To give or not to give professional services to non-paying clients: professionals’ giving backstory
Journal name Journal of Service Management   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1757-5818
Publication date 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1108/JOSM-07-2014-0194
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 26
Issue 3
Start page 426
End page 459
Total pages 34
Place of publication Bingley, United Kingdom
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Purpose:  The purpose of this paper is to explicate professionals’ giving backstory, identifying what motivates and hinders professionals’ undertaking of pro bono service activities. Examples are provided of different pro bono giving styles, as professionals struggle to resolve inter-institutional tensions, thus addressing this little understood yet vital form of giving, and meeting an important research priority.

Design/methodology/approach:  Using a discovery-oriented grounded theory approach, this paper draws on narratives from interviews with 31 professionals to explicate, from the professional’s point of view, the backstory of pro bono service.

Findings:  The authors provide an integrative institutional logics-based framework for understanding the backstory to professionals’ giving. Three distinct pro bono giving styles are revealed: first, an individual logic (self-centric), an “I” logic; second, an organizational logic (organization-centric), “We” logic; and third, a societal “All” logic (where the greater good to society in general is the dominant logic). The paper concludes with recommendations for how professionals and professional service firms (PSFs) can better align their pro bono giving styles with non-paying not-for-profit clients for multi-party benefit.

Originality/value:  The originality of this research lies in addressing an important yet little understood form of giving through delving into the backstory to pro bono service. First, the paper theorizes the characteristics of a formerly unarticulated form of giving, distinguishing it from individual-to-individual close consumer gifting, individual to organizational charitable giving, sponsorship, and volunteering. Second, the different inter-institutional logics of pro bono giving are identified, with three main pro bono giving styles uncovered. Third, the authors link professional services theory, theoretical perspectives from giving, and institutional logics theory to develop an integrated framework to explain service professionals’ pro bono activities. Furthermore, a compelling agenda for future research is provided to guide future work.
Keyword Giving behavior
Professional service firms
Professional services
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 0 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article
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