Life-saving Transformative Services of Botanic Gardens

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Even though thousands of dedicated volunteers play a vital role in the management and development of Botanic Gardens (BGs) worldwide (BGCI, 2016), these narratives are underexplored (Measham and Barnett, 2009). Evaluation of impact regarding BGs outputs can be useful for demonstrating to funders the contribution they make (Williams et al., 2015), in this case, transformative service impact of BG volunteer prosumerism.
Ostrom et al., (2010) identified several overarching priorities intended to shed light on service areas being of great value and potential to improving individual and societal welfare. Out of those priorities Anderson (2010) conceptualises Transformative Service Research (TSR), which focuses on services and wellbeing. This paper positions BGs and volunteers as a novel TSR case. TSR as a theoretical lens and modus operandi enables academics, practitioners, planners, developers, managers, marketers, policymakers and everyday people to consider novel ways of providing important insights for formal and/or informal strategic decision making, action planning and related provision to ultimately make people and places better (Anderson and Ostrom, 2015; Fisk et al., 2016).
Although gardens and gardening clearly reveal positive impacts on health and wellbeing (Howarth et al., 2020), exploratory studies into BGs and Volunteering services is non-existent across the TSR literature, and as a service both received and provided between BG and volunteer, and vice versa as a model of novel prosumerism and transformative service, these are underexplored and worthy of academic study to inform good practice elsewhere across sectors.
Based on BGCI (2021) volunteer data, volunteers are the lifeblood of the gardens they serve, as many gardens have support from huge numbers of volunteers across the sector. Derewnicka et al., (2015) highlights that volunteers can keep a BG from coming under threat of closure and attract new audiences whilst extending opening times. BGs and volunteering have important roles as transformative service provision (BGCI, 2016).
There is a need to address ongoing challenges that many of our gardens are facing, such as financial changes, constraints, limited support from traditional sources, and a lack of awareness of the value and importance of BGs (Catahan and Woodruffe-Burton, 2019). BGs are valuable, important institutes of scientific discoveries, holding biophysical and cultural collections (Smith, 2019). BGs collaborate and work on invaluable conservation projects, constantly developing education, training and awareness roles and ever-expanding on their significant works and impacts linked to plants, people, places and services which harness health and wellbeing opportunities (Derewenicka, 2016); despite public perception of many of these places, which seemingly focus on servicescape elements,...the ‘view, brew and loo’ (Catahan and Woodruffe-Burton, 2019).
BGs are however certainly transformative service providers in much more impactful ways, facilitating Sustainable Development Goals (Smith, 2019). BGs world-wide continue their focus on a range of services with broad ranging environmental, sociocultural and economic impacts (BGCI, 2018), whilst aiming to develop as diverse, efficient, effective, exciting and engaging places (Benfield, 2021). This research therefore informs TSR, and services marketing opportunities for BGs, and offers an understanding of the impactful nexus of BG and volunteer prosumerism to support BGs ongoing efforts.
PeriodJul 2022
Event title2022 Academy of Marketing Conference: Marketing: The Fabric of Life
Event typeConference
Conference number54
LocationHuddersfield, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Transformative Service Research (TSR)
  • Service Making
  • Service Marketing
  • Volunteering
  • Botanic Gardens