An Analysis of Change in an Organizational Field: The Professionalization of English Rugby Union

in Journal of Sport Management
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Since 1995, the organizational field that constitutes English rugby union has undergone considerable transformation. Utilizing ideas about changes in actors, changes in exchange processes and interorganizational linkages, changes in the legitimized forms of capital in the field, and changes in regulatory structures, this paper explores the nature of this transformation in English rugby union. Data from 43 interviews with key individuals in the English game form the main data source for the study. The results show that changes in the communities of actors composing the field hastened change in other areas. Powerful new actors with strong ties to business environments brought with them professionally oriented values and a new institutional logic. Having made significant financial investments in the field, these actors collectively took measures to protect their economic interests. These measures took the form of political activity and coalition building, which, ultimately, reconfigured the field's regulatory structure. The new emphasis on economic capital prompted significant shifts in key actors' exchange relationships, in that clubs' strategies and structures were reoriented in order to gain access to this important network resource.

Danny O'Brien is with the School of Marketing and Management, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia; Trevor Slack is with the International Institute for the Study of Sport Management, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Journal of Sport Management
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