Managing sport: governance and performance. Best papers from the “Sport as Business” track at the EURAM Annual Meeting in Rome 2010


Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 11 October 2011



Harald Dolles, P. and Sten Soderman, P. (2011), "Managing sport: governance and performance. Best papers from the “Sport as Business” track at the EURAM Annual Meeting in Rome 2010", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 1 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Managing sport: governance and performance. Best papers from the “Sport as Business” track at the EURAM Annual Meeting in Rome 2010

Article Type: Editorial From: Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3.

About the Guest Editors

Harald DollesVisiting Professor (full time) in International Business at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg (Gothenburg, Sweden). He has been Assistant Professor at Bayreuth University (Germany) and taught on the University's sports business programme. During his professional career from 2001 to 2006 he was assigned by the German Ministry of Education and Science to serve in official mission as expert on China and Japan at the economic section of the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo. He also taught in Japan before joining the German Graduate School of Management and Law as Professor of Management and International Business in 2006. Harald frequently contributes to scientific development in the fields of international business and sports management and Asian studies and chairs the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Special Interest Group on “Sport as Business”.

Sten Söderman Professor of International Business at Stockholm University, School of Business (Stockhom, Sweden) and a Visiting Professor at the University of Luxembourg (Luxembourg). Previously he was a Professor at Luleå University of Technology and a Business Consultant specialising in startups (in Manila, Geneva and Brussels). His research has focused on market strategy development and implementation and is currently on the international expansion of European firms in Asia and the global entertainment economy. He is the author and editor of many books, case studies and articles. Together with Harald Dolles he is currently editing the Handbook of Research on Sport and Business (Edward Elgar). Sten co-chairs the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Strategic Interests Group on “Sport as Business”.

It started in Stockholm at a conference in international business more than ten years ago when we, Harald Dolles and Sten Söderman, together visited a Swedish football match between Djurgårdens IF and another team, the name of which we have forgotten in the meanwhile, discovered a shared interest in how management concepts could be applied and might function (or not) in sports. Before this evening at Råsunda Stadium we had met at several conferences. Our backgrounds were rather similar focusing on sensitivity and pre-understanding of sports based on own experiences combined with several years of academic research, writing and teaching on international business and industry experience from working abroad, especially in Asia. We agreed that despite the well-documented economic impact of sports in media and the mismanagement at club level often reported by journalists, academic research papers on sports management were rarely seen at top management conferences. Sport management research simply had not made its way to well established Business Schools’ management curricula and research.

Our early ambition was to bring sport management research from a specialist niche market and focused conferences into international management conferences. By doing so, we aimed to develop and establish research on sport management as a serious new field of management research in the hope that it would later be broadly accepted in leading Business Schools. We’ve been fully aware that a lot of qualified research in sports has been done and is visible, e.g. in economics, sociology and physical education, but not within the fields of business administration. In the following years we presented our research on sport management with posters, interactive and competitive papers not only at sports conferences (in order to get feed-back from sports specialists) but also at various highly-ranked management conferences worldwide (to relate to the latest theoretical research in the field). Besides we also organized well-received panels, e.g. on “Sport Businesses and Sport: Facing the Challenges of Internationalization” in 2008 (Academy of International Business Conference, Indianapolis) and on “Targeting the International Audience: Challenges Facing Sports Managers” (Academy of International Business Conference 2009, Milano). Special issues on “Mega-Sporting Events in Asia: Impacts on Society, Business & Management” (Asian Business & Management, just ahead of the Bejing Olympic Games in 2008) and on “Developing International Sport” (International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, 2008) were published by us subsequently.

In 2008 our competitive proposal to organize an academic track on “Sport as a business: internationalisation, professionalisation, commercialisation” was accepted for the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Annual Meeting at the University of Liverpool, Liverpool (UK). For the first time in the history of EURAM a track on the business and management aspects of sports was accepted. At the actual conference in spring 2009 the track was well received, far beyond our expectations. Plenty of high profile papers, interesting discussions and a stimulating atmosphere during the conference constituted the most important platform in our knowledge development endeavors. This achievement and the fulfilment of the organizational requirements stated by EURAM has led to the founding of a Special Interest Group (SIG) named after the initial track on “Sport as a Business”. By encouraging this development, the EURAM board concluded that the main topics chosen for the track (“internationalisation, professionalisation and commercialisation in sports”) as promising emerging areas of research. In a seemingly parallel development and driven by Simon Chadwick, the idea of a new journal focusing on “Sport, Business and Management” (SBM) research emerged. To establish a link between the “Sport as a Business”-SIG and the development of a new journal in the field was only natural and considered to be beneficial for both sides. We thank Valerie Robillard (Emerald New Launch Publisher) for being very encouraging and supportive in this process.

The EURAM SIG on “Sport as Business” has in the meanwhile defined itself as a network of academics, practitioners, athletes and sport officials whose interests revolve around aspects of internationalisation, professionalisation and commercialisation of sports in theory and in practice. The Group, which is chaired currently by ourselves, will function as a catalyst for building and disseminating new ideas around the business of sports, by particularly aiming at:

  • promoting research and education in the fields of sports business and management in Europe, with special emphasis on international comparisons;

  • fostering an understanding of the role of professionalisation and commercialisation of sport in European economy and society;

  • encouraging the exchange of research results, practical experience, and ideas by organising the annual EURAM track, facilitating symposia, workshops and other academic meetings for and on behalf of its members and affiliated institutions;

  • supporting the development of international research collaborations with other Academies of Management and Sports Management Associations; and

  • disseminating research results through a variety of channels.

As an effort to start and to cover up the time lag until the new journal SBM was launched, some papers from the Liverpool track could be included in our edited volume on Sport as a Business: International, Professional and Commercial Aspects (PalgraveMacmillan, 2011) and some will be published in our Handbook on Research on Sport as a Business (Edward Elgar, 2012).

For the next EURAM SIG – “Sport as a Business” – track at the annual EURAM conference 2010 hosted by Tor Vergata University in Rome (Italy) the launch of Sport, Business and Management: An international Journal was supported and a special issue of best papers of the track proposed and accepted. We are grateful to Emerald for strengthening the relationsship between the Journal and the EURAM Sport as a business-SIG by sponsoring an annual best paper award and a best reviewer award. The best paper award in Rome was presented to Winfried Ruigrok, Peder Greve and Martin Engeler from the Research Institute for International Management at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland, for their paper entitled “International experiential diversity and performance at project organizations: the case of national football teams” (included in this volume). SBM also rewarded the best reviewer, which was presented to Anna Fyrberg from Stockholm University, School of Business, Sweden.

We received 44 submissions for the “Sport as a Business”-SIG track in Rome and close to 100 reviewers (double-blind reviews) helped to evaluate the track submissions. The papers accepted were divided into four major groups: governance, football, individual/teams and branding/sponsorship. After a period of further amendments, five of the best papers out of those groups, were included in the present SBM volume. The content of the papers constitutes a mirror of the classification in the four groups. The first two articles are on governance: Leigh Robinson and Brian Minikin give a general picture on strategic capacity in one type of sport organization, the Olympic organization, and Mathieu Winand with three colleagues – Benoît Rihoux, David Qualizza and Thierry Zintz – elaborates on the ten key determinants leading to high performance in sport organizations in one country. After these two governance featured contributions, the third article is on football. Benoit Senaux analyses the increasing commercialization in France and the shifts in its institutional logics. Winfried Ruigkrok and his two colleagues, Peder Greve and Martin Engeler, shed light on the individual aspect, i.e. all 736 players in the World Cup 2006, the project teams and team performance. The fifth article, representing the fourth of our four groups, is on sponsoring and the German Bundesliga. Christoph Breuer and Christopher Rumpf report from an examination of the stimuli on consumers’ memorization of sponsoring brands in a TV context.

We start this issue with the first governance viewpoint by Leigh Robinson and Brian Minikin and their article “Developing strategic capacity in Olympic sport organizations”. It refers to Olympic Committees at the national, continental and global levels and to National Federations and International Federations. In addition, the term incorporates organisations with complementary aims and activities. What these organisations have in common is a commitment to, and objectives associated with, the concept of Olympism, which is an ideology, a pattern of ideas about the purposes of collective life, about social goals, distribution of resources and relationships between society and the individual. The results presented above support the observations made by researchers who have seen changes in the complexity and sophistication of sport organisations as they develop, from simple and centralised, or ‘Kitchen Table’ operations to more diverse and sophisticated ‘Boardroom’ driven enterprises. It further supports the views of researchers such as that sport organisations consist of a number operational areas of performance dimensions that need to be considered in their overall planning framework. Finally, it reinforces the need to assess and build on organisational capabilities.

From governance around capabilities to governance on performance. Mathieu Winand, Benoît Rihoux, David Qualizza and Thierry Zintz, in the succeeding article, link “Combinations of key determinants of performance in sport governing bodies”. This study focuses on possible combinations of the key determinants of high performance, so-called qualitative comparative analysis (csQCA), in sport governing bodies which go well beyond the net effects of independent variables. The research focused on 18 sport governing bodies from the French-speaking community in Belgium. Their strategic goals are emphasized and their potential determinants of performance are measured and assessed. Three generic combinations of the key determinants linked with high performance were concluded. The first type of governing body was high performing that provide innovative activities for their membership and are proactive in elite sport services. The second was other high performing sport governing bodies of a large size that involve paid staff in decision making processes and also develop innovative activities. The third was small-sized governing bodies which, although they do not have extensive resources, could perform highly when they relied on volunteer leaders and delegate activities they were not able to deliver. The key success factors leading to high performance could be identified using csQCA. Indeed, the complex relationships between actions and results can be highlighted, as well as the interactions between actions, as a consequence of the focus on combinations of necessary and sufficient conditions of the QCA.

The third article is “Playing by the rules… but which ones?” by Benoit Senaux. Football in France, as in most European countries, has become increasingly commercialised over the last few decades. This, however, did not occur across a virgin field since football has been played in France since the late nineteenth century and initially was institutionalised around a strong framework of amateur rules. Though it became professional in the 1930s, clubs remained not-for-profit members associations run by volunteers until recently. The article presents a literature review on institutional logic and pluralism and provides a historical analysis of French football. The current pluralistic context is then developed and its implications explored in terms of governance and management. Governance and management issues in football might be explained by the multiple logics clubs are facing. Football clubs’ managers thus need to take these logics into account when addressing their key stakeholders, and have to work on shaping a consistent organisational identity. This article is original in that it analyses the commercialisation of football as a move towards a more complex institutional pluralism, rather than a change in the dominant logic.

“International experiential diversity and performance at project organizations: the case of national football teams” by Winfried Ruigrok, Peder Greve and Martin Engeler constitutes the fourth paper. This report examines the extent to which the combination of experiential characteristics among team members explain the performance of national football teams at a major international tournament, namely the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Germany in 2006. On a theoretical level, the authors adopt the view that the combination of resource configurations among project team members are potential sources of competitive advantage. To derive the hypotheses, an integrated view with the rich literature on team diversity configurations and performance outcomes using performance data on the 32 participating national teams and detailed biographical data on all 736 participating players, the findings provided new insights into the performance effects of experiential diversity in time-limited (project) team settings. Also elaborated on were the implications of the findings for team selection practices in professional sports teams. Two key empirical contributions demonstrated that international experience is a salient feature of project team members’ experience profiles, and the sum of individual international experience profiles of project team members and the combination of international experience profiles within a project team have distinct implications for team performance. High costs of integration appear to arise in project teams when team members have been shaped in a wide variety of international locations with few overlaps as to their international backgrounds. Meanwhile, team performance may be enhanced if individual team members have obtained diverse and substantial international experience during their careers.

The fifth and last article is, “Memorization of sport sponsorship activities: the case of the German Bundesliga” by Christoph Breuer and Christopher Rumpf. The German Bundesliga is the most omnipresent sport league in German TV, which makes it highly attractive to business corporations. In order to associate with the clubs or the league itself, corporations invest millions in sponsorships. However, both scientists and practitioners doubt the marketing effectiveness of such activities since sponsoring budgets have increased a lot during the last decades. An experimental study was conducted in order to examine the effects of sponsoring stimuli on consumers’ memorization of sponsoring brands in a TV context. Results for this study suggested that the quantity and quality of brand exposure were significant drivers of sponsor brand memorization. The longer a certain sponsor logo is presented on screen the more likely this sponsor is to be perceived and memorized by the consumer. The exclusiveness of sponsor logo exposure also has a significant influence on the sponsorship effectiveness as multiple competing sponsors dilute the attention. If the number of competing sponsors on screen increases, it becomes more difficult for the consumer to memorize certain sponsors. In the managerial field, the strategy and implementation of sponsoring activities has experienced professionalization during the last two decades. Most sponsors have some kind of sponsorship strategy regarding, at least, the amount of investment and predefined objectives. However, the most crucial challenge for managers is to evaluate the effectiveness of their sponsorships.

Professor Harald Dolles and Professor Sten Söderman

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