Types of professionalization in national sport federations

Lang, Grazia; Lamprecht, Markus; Ruoranen, Kaisa; Klenk, Christoffer; Schlesinger, Torsten; Bayle, Emmanuel; Clausen, Josephine; Giauque, David; Nagel, Siegfried (10 September 2016). Types of professionalization in national sport federations. In: The 24th EASM Conference: Memories and identities in sport management in Europe. Book of Abstracts (p. 33). European Association of Sportmanagement

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Aim of the abstract/study
In recent years, national sport federations (NSFs) have been
facing pressure to professionalize due to increasing competition
in the market, technological advancements and growing
requirements in top-level sports. As a consequence, these
challenges have produced a “transition from an amateur,
volunteer-driven pastime to a more business-like sector”
(Shilbury & Ferkins, 2011, p. 108). However, according to
Nichols and James (2008), increased formalization and
professionalization do not meet the needs of all organizations.
In fact, according to their preconditions and objectives, the
NSFs follow different strategies in the professionalization
process. Thus, it can be presumed that NSFs are at different
stages of professionalization, even though they are located in
the same environment and face similar pressures to
professionalize from the umbrella federation.
The aim of this study is to classify Swiss NSFs in order to find
types of professionalization, and then to test correlations
between the professionalization types and other organizational
Theoretical background
The theoretical basis for this study is the multi-level framework
for analyzing forms, causes and consequences of
professionalization of sport federations (Nagel, Schlesinger,
Bayle & Giauque, 2015), along with a conceptual framework to
analyze professionalization in sport federations (Ruoranen et
al., 2016). The work of Ruoranen and colleagues (2016)
focuses on forms of professionalization and can therefore be
used to identify professionalization types. The analysis covers
three aspects: “strategies and activities” (e.g. strategic planning,
level of diversification), “people and positions” (e.g. profiles of
paid employees) and “structures and processes” (e.g.
formalization, differentiation). Causes and consequences of
professionalization compiled in the multi-level framework (Nagel
et al., 2015) are applied as possible variables to describe the
characteristics of each professionalization type.
Methodology, research design and data analysis
Data was collected using an online survey conducted by the
Swiss Olympic Association (the national umbrella federation of
Swiss NSFs). As all member federations of Swiss Olympic
Association (n=84) are obliged to participate in the survey, the
response rate was 100%.
NSOs with similar forms of professionalization will be grouped
using hierarchical cluster analysis. To determine the
professionalization of “strategies and activities” in each NSF,
cluster variables of “strategic orientation” and “service
orientation” will be used. The indicators “profiles of paid
employees” and “shared governance” identify
professionalization of “people and positions”, and for the
“structures and processes” of the NSFs, “formalization of
strategic orientation” and “formalization of service orientation”
will be examined.
The second step of the analysis will be conducted using a
variance analysis to investigate differences between the
clusters relating to variables that may cause and result from
professionalization, e.g. “size of organization”, “organisational
values”, “relationships with external stakeholders” and “financial
Results, discussion and implications
Final results are not yet available, as the collection of the data
has just been completed. A pilot study has revealed significant
divergence in the variables mentioned, it can therefore be
expected that further analysis will indicate different types of
professionalization of NSFs. This typecast of NSFs could assist
when consulting sport federations about their
professionalization process. Depending on the type of
professionalization, the findings may be used to identify the
“ideal shape” of strategies and activities, people and positions,
and structures and processes of a federation.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Abstract)


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:

Lang, Grazia, Ruoranen, Kaisa Reetta, Klenk, Christoffer, Nagel, Siegfried


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology


European Association of Sportmanagement




Grazia Lang

Date Deposited:

12 Jan 2017 09:44

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:00

Related URLs:

Uncontrolled Keywords:

professionalization; sport federation; typology





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