Volunteers as tour guides: a stakeholder–agency theory case study

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Publication details

Lamont, MJ, Kenelly, M & Weller, B in press, 'Volunteers as tour guides: a stakeholder–agency theory case study', Current Issues in Tourism.

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The use of volunteer tour guides by commercial tour operators has attracted little scholarly attention. This paper presents a qualitative case study of a commercially organized tour led by volunteer tour guides, and explores how the guides' status as volunteers shaped experiences of tour customers. Analysis, underpinned by stakeholder–agency theory, highlighted a range of service delivery issues that emerged during the tour. Theoretical and applied implications are discussed, with particular reference to how tour operators might negotiate the vexed issue of managing service delivery quality in the context of tour services paid for by customers, yet delivered by volunteers. Further research is required to explore potential differences in the willingness of tour operators to invest in human resource development initiatives for paid versus volunteer tour guides, along with possible flow-on implications for tour guides' role performance and customer satisfaction.