Professionalisation of sports federations – A multi-level framework for analysing forms, causes and consequences

Nagel, Siegfried; Schlesinger, Torsten (2015). Professionalisation of sports federations – A multi-level framework for analysing forms, causes and consequences. Seventh annual congres [sic!] of the Swiss society of sports sciences. Lausanne. 12-13 February 2015. Programme and book of abstracts. Lausanne: SGS

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Introduction: International and national sports federations as well as their member organisations (usually sports clubs) are key actors within the sports system and have a wide range of relationships outside the sports system (e.g. with the state, sponsors, and the media). They are currently facing major challenges such as growing competition in top-­‐level sports, democratisation of sports with “sports for all” and sports as the answer to social problems (integration, education, health, unemployment, etc.). In this context, professionalising sports organisations seems to be an appropriate strategy to face these challenges and solve current problems. This has led to a profound organisational change, particularly within sports federations, characterised by the strengthening of institutional management (managerialism) and the implementation of efficiency-­‐based management instruments and paid staff. In this context the questions arise how sports organisations professionalise and what consequences this may have. Theoretical framework: The goal of our presentation is to review the international literature and develop an appropriate concept of professionalisation in sport federations. Our multi-­‐level approach based on social theory of action integrates the current concepts and perspectives for analysing professionalisation in sports federations. We specify the framework for the following research perspectives: (1) forms, (2) causes and mechanisms, (3) consequences and (4) dynamics, and discuss the reciprocal relations between sports federations and their member organisations in this context. When analysing these different research perspectives, it is important to select or elaborate appropriate theoretical concepts to match the general multi-­‐level framework Discussion: The elaborated multi-­‐level framework for analysing professionalisation in sports federations is able to integrate most of the existing theoretical concepts and therefore, the broad range of endogenous as well as exogenous factors that might influence the professionalisation of sports organisations. Based on the theoretical framework, we can identify several consequences for the methodological design of studies intending to analyse the different perspectives of professionalisation in sports organisations: Data have to be collected on the different levels. Not only the forms of professionalisation and relevant structures of the organisations should be taken into account but also important characteristics of the environment (macro level) as well as members or member organisations, particularly key actors who might play a crucial role in gaining an understanding of professionalisation processes in sports organisations. In order to carry out a complex organisational research design, it seems necessary to focus on case studies – an approach that has become increasingly important in organisational research. Different strategies and methods of data collection have to be used within the case studies (e.g. interviews with experts within the organisations, questionnaire for selected people in the organisation, document analysis). Therefore, qualitative and quantitative research strategies have to be combined.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Science III

UniBE Contributor:

Nagel, Siegfried and Schlesinger, Torsten


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment




Siegfried Nagel

Date Deposited:

10 Mar 2016 15:59

Last Modified:

10 Mar 2016 15:59


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