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Assessing the whistleblowing policies of international sport organisations

Pim Verschuuren (University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 30 April 2021

Issue publication date: 20 July 2021

Abstract

Purpose

The implementation of whistleblowing policies is emblematic of the reforms undertaken by international sports organisations in the aftermath of major governance and integrity scandals. However, sport has particular organisational and cultural characteristics that reduce the likelihood of whistleblowing behaviour. This article looks at the quality of reporting policies in sports to assess how far the reporting mechanisms encourage whistleblowers.

Design/methodology/approach

A whistleblowing policy quality assessment system was built and applied to 45 international sport organisations.

Findings

The research identified 23 reporting mechanisms but, despite marked differences between them, most policies are of low quality. In particular, whistle-blower protection regimes and promotion strategies are lacking.

Research limitations/implications

The research suggests that reporting mechanisms currently in place are not likely to encourage whistle-blowers and questions the performance of these mechanisms as well as the objectives of the organisations, which may reflect “window-dressing” strategies. This may have implications for other areas of “good governance” reform.

Practical implications

An assessment questionnaire for sport reporting policies has been created and tested. It was sent to international sport organisations to assist them in identifying policy gaps and improving their policy.

Originality/value

The analysis does not limit itself to the presence or absence of “good governance” measures. It also explores their quality. It proposes a comprehensive assessment grid for whistleblowing policies in international sport that practitioners and researchers may wish to use in future.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank the experts who helped in building and validating the assessment grid, and the international sports organisations which provided valuable comments and reviewed their results. He is also deeply grateful to the reviewers who provided valuable and insightful comments.

Citation

Verschuuren, P. (2021), "Assessing the whistleblowing policies of international sport organisations", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 405-429. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBM-05-2020-0040

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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