Causes, forms and consequences of the professionalization of international sport federa-tions in Switzerland: Conceptual framework and first results

Clausen, Josephine; Giauque, David; Ruoranen, Kaisa; Klenk, Christoffer; Schlesinger, Torsten; Bayle, Emmanuel; Nagel, Siegfried (2015). Causes, forms and consequences of the professionalization of international sport federa-tions in Switzerland: Conceptual framework and first results. In: 23rd EASM Conference. Abstracts. Dublin, Ireland: EASM

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Synopsis:
Sport organisations are facing multiple challenges originating from an
increasingly complex and dynamic environment in general, and from internal
changes in particular. Our study seeks to reveal and analyse the causes for
professionalization processes in international sport federations, the forms
resulting from it, as well as related consequences.
Abstract:
AIM OF ABSTRACT/PAPER - RESEARCH QUESTION

Sport organisations are facing multiple challenges originating from an
increasingly complex and dynamic environment in general, and from internal
changes in particular. In this context, professionalization seems to have been
adopted by sport organisations as an appropriate strategy to respond to
pressures such as becoming more “business-like”. The ongoing study seeks to
reveal and analyse the internal and external causes for professionalization
processes in international sport federations, the forms resulting from it (e.g.
organisational, managerial, economic) as well as related consequences on
objectives, values, governance methods, performance management or again
rationalisation.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND/LITERATURE REVIEW

Studies on sport as specific non-profit sector mainly focus on the prospect of
the “professionalization of individuals” (Thibault, Slack & Hinings, 1991), often
within sport clubs (Thiel, Meier & Cachay, 2006) and national sport federations
(Seippel, 2002) or on organisational change (Griginov & Sandanski, 2008;
Slack & Hinings, 1987, 1992; Slack, 1985, 2001), thus leaving broader analysis
on governance, management and professionalization in sport organisations an unaccomplished task.

In order to further current research on above-mentioned topics, our intention is
to analyse causes, forms and consequences of professionalisation processes
in international sport federations. The social theory of action (Coleman, 1986;
Esser, 1993) has been defined as appropriate theoretical framework, deriving
in the following a multi-level framework for the analysis of sport organisations
(Nagel, 2007). In light of the multi-level framework, sport federations are
conceptualised as corporative actors whose objectives are defined and
implemented with regard to the interests of member organisations (Heinemann,
2004) and/or other pressure groups. In order to understand social acting and
social structures (Giddens 1984) of sport federations, two levels are in the
focus of our analysis: the macro level examining the environment at large
(political, social, economic systems etc.) and the meso level (Esser, 1999)
examining organisational structures, actions and decisions of the federation’s
headquarter as well as member organisations.

METHODOLOGY, RESEARCH DESIGN AND DATA ANALYSIS

The multi-level framework mentioned seeks to gather and analyse information
on causes, forms and consequences of professionalization processes in sport
federations. It is applied in a twofold approach: first an exploratory study based
on nine semi-structured interviews with experts from umbrella sport
organisations (IOC, WADA, ASOIF, AIOWF, etc.) as well as the analysis of
related documents, relevant reports (IOC report 2000 on governance reform,
Agenda 2020, etc.) and important moments of change in the Olympic
Movement (Olympic revenue share, IOC evaluation criteria, etc.); and secondly
several case studies.

Whereas the exploratory study seeks more the causes for professionalization
on an external, internal and headquarter level as depicted in the literature, the
case studies rather focus on forms and consequences. Applying our
conceptual framework, the analysis of forms is built around three dimensions:

1) Individuals (persons and positions),

2) Processes, structures (formalisation, specialisation),

3) Activities (strategic planning).

With regard to consequences, we centre our attention on expectations of and
relationships with stakeholders (e.g. cooperation with business partners),
structure, culture and processes (e.g. governance models, performance), and
expectations of and relationships with member organisations (e.g.
centralisation vs. regionalisation).

For the case studies, a mixed-method approach is applied to collect relevant
data: questionnaires for rather quantitative data, interviews for rather qualitative
data, as well as document and observatory analysis.

RESULTS, DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS/CONCLUSIONS

With regard to causes of professionalization processes, we analyse the content
of three different levels:

1. the external level, where the main pressure derives from financial resources
(stakeholders, benefactors) and important turning points (scandals, media
pressure, IOC requirements for Olympic sports);

2. the internal level, where pressure from member organisations turned out to
be less decisive than assumed (little involvement of member organisations in decision-making);

3. the headquarter level, where specific economic models (World Cups, other
international circuits, World Championships), and organisational structures
(decision-making procedures, values, leadership) trigger or hinder a
federation’s professionalization process.

Based on our first analysis, an outline for an economic model is suggested,
distinguishing four categories of IFs: “money-generating IFs” being rather based
on commercialisation and strategic alliances; “classical Olympic IFs” being rather
reactive and dependent on Olympic revenue; “classical non-Olympic IFs” being
rather independent of the Olympic Movement; and “money-receiving IFs” being
dependent on benefactors and having strong traditions and values.

The results regarding forms and consequences will be outlined in the
presentation.

The first results from the two pilot studies will allow us to refine our conceptual
framework for subsequent case studies, thus extending our data collection and
developing fundamental conclusions.
References:
Bayle, E., & Robinson, L. (2007). A framework for understanding the
performance of national governing bodies of sport. European Sport
Management Quarterly, 7, 249–268

Chantelat, P. (2001). La professionnalisation des organisations sportives:
Nouveaux débats, nouveaux enjeux [Professionalisation of sport
organisations]. Paris: L’Harmattan.

Dowling, M., Edwards, J., & Washington, M. (2014). Understanding the concept
of professionalization in sport management research. Sport Management
Review. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.smr.2014.02.003

Ferkins, L. & Shilbury, D. (2012). Good Boards Are Strategic: What Does That
Mean for Sport Governance? Journal of Sport Management, 26, 67-80.

Thibault, L., Slack, T., & Hinings, B. (1991). Professionalism, structures and
systems: The impact of professional staff on voluntary sport organizations.
International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 26, 83–97.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Sociology and Management

UniBE Contributor:

Ruoranen, Kaisa Reetta; Klenk, Christoffer; Schlesinger, Torsten and Nagel, Siegfried

Subjects:

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

Publisher:

EASM

Language:

English

Submitter:

Kaisa Reetta Ruoranen

Date Deposited:

15 Mar 2016 13:06

Last Modified:

23 Mar 2016 13:16

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.79543

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/79543

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