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Paying fees for government business advice: an assessment of Business Link experience

[journal article]

Robson, Paul John Alexander; Bennett, Robert John

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Abstract Business Link in Britain provides a unique opportunity to examine a system which has targeted fee income as a major part of its management objectives in order to increase the ‘sense of value’ of the services offered. The paper examines the influence of fees on client impact and satisfaction. It finds that fees have no significant relationship with client satisfaction or impact. Government targets and manager/advisor policies have, therefore, been wrong to pursue an explicit fee-based targeting strategy. Instead, satisfaction and impact are most significantly influenced by the character of the Business Link provider, being significantly higher for franchises managed by chambers of commerce and other agents, and being poor for independent providers. Service type has a significant influence on the propensity to charge a fee and on service impact. SME characteristics have little influence on client evaluations. The policy implication is that advisors should focus on what they do best and can quality-assure; in other cases they should use referral to other professional advisors. The scope to raise fees from government advice services is, therefore, opportunistic and limited, and should not be incentivised.
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 37-48
Journal Applied Economics, 42 (2009) 1
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)