Towards a theory of collaborative advantage for the sports tourism policy arena

Adrian Devine (University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)
Emily Boyle (University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)
Stephen Boyd (University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 25 January 2011



Collaboration is now an important part of public sector management. The purpose of this paper is to examine the factors that have helped shape the relationships between public agencies involved in sports tourism.


Using critical case sampling 54 in‐depth interviews were conducted with public officials in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.


The authors have produced the “Theory of collaborative advantage in relation to sports tourism”. This model captures the dynamics of collaboration in the sports tourism policy arena. A total of 12 practitioner themes and four cross‐cutting themes were identified and although each theme and the issues and tensions identified within it can affect inter‐organizational relationships in a particular way, the model illustrates how each theme is interlinked and is part of a larger, more complex picture.

Research limitations /implications

Like all empirical research, this paper has its limitations but if the issues that affect collaboration are not identified then they cannot be addressed. Although no two collaborative settings are the same, public sector managers need to be aware of the factors that affect, or may affect, inter‐organizational relationships so that they can pre‐empt problems and maximise the use of resources.

Practical implications

Hopefully this paper will, in some way, lead to better planning and management of sports tourism and encourage those involved in sports tourism policy to adapt a collaborative, rather than an isolated, approach.


This study has contributed to knowledge by providing a better understanding of the inter‐relationships in the sports tourism policy arena.



Devine, A., Boyle, E. and Boyd, S. (2011), "Towards a theory of collaborative advantage for the sports tourism policy arena", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 23-41.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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