The role of power conceptions when choosing a host city

Sandrine Gherra (Department of Research in Management, Montpellier Business School, Montpellier, France)
Frédéric Lassalle (Economics and Management Laboratorym University of Bourgogne, Dijon, France)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Publication date: 13 April 2015



International sport competitions continue to attract a high number of spectators and the potential political, community building and financial payoffs are such that the competition to become a host city is often fierce. France has several attractive cities with all of the resources required to host these events, but they have repeatedly failed (Summer Olympic Games 2008 and 2012, Winter Olympic Games 2018, etc.). Most of the studies that have explored these failures have done so from a resource-based view. But when a city has all the required resources, what other factors may have been decisive? Could a misfit in the conception of power during the negotiation process explain it? The paper aims to discuss these issues.


We looked at the specific failure of Marseille to host the 2007 America’s Cup and focused particularly on the conceptions of power held, respectively by Marseille representatives and the committee in charge of choosing the host city. In line with French qualitative methods we performed a single case study based on discourse analysis (23 interviews with the involved parties and 22 outside experts) to analyze the sources of power that Marseille and America’s Cup Management (ACM) had.


The authors found that Marseille and ACM had different sources of power. According to Weber’s categories, Marseille had an “Organization” source of power: “it’s is a structure and an organization that implies specific rules” and ACM had a “Property” source of power: “it’s a commercial structure that has ownership rights to this very special event.” Analysis of the interviews reveals that points of disagreement reflected differing conceptions of power, which suggests new perspectives for future research in the context of failed negotiations in sports.


Analyzing failure from another angle that the classical resource-based view: having the right resources is no longer enough; cities have to have the winning strategy.



Gherra, S. and Lassalle, F. (2015), "The role of power conceptions when choosing a host city", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 440-459.

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