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Institutional isomorphism and social responsibility in professional sports

Soyoung Joo (Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)
Ben Larkin (Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)
Nefertiti Walker (University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 13 March 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices of three major professional sport leagues in South Korea to investigate the general beliefs, values, and norms influencing the institutional isomorphism of CSR engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with three league chiefs of CSR initiatives and senior managers of related divisions to explore the general beliefs, values, and norms that are institutionalized in their CSR practices. The Gioia method of inquiry and data analysis was employed.

Findings

Using institutional theory, the current research found evidence of all three institutional pressures of institutional isomorphism that contribute to the institutionalization of CSR practices in professional South Korean sport. The data revealed that CSR has been institutionalized in these leagues through isomorphic pressures – coercive, mimetic, and normative – as antecedents to their CSR practices.

Practical implications

The current research identified that conforming to the institutional norms may not only act as a force causing the organization to behave in a socially responsible manner, but also to provide the organization with competitive advantages.

Originality/value

The authors extend the current literature in sport CSR by using institutional theory as a framework to uncover organizational CSR motives. In particular, this is the first study to provide evidence of how three isomorphic pressures work to institutionalize CSR practices in South Korean professional sports leagues.

Keywords

Citation

Joo, S., Larkin, B. and Walker, N. (2017), "Institutional isomorphism and social responsibility in professional sports", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 38-57. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBM-03-2016-0010

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited