Determinants of Corporate Social Responsibility in Professional Sport: Internal and External Factors

in Journal of Sport Management

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Kathy BabiakUniversity of Michigan

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Richard WolfeBrock University

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Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an area of increasing importance for many companies. Professional sport teams, also, are increasingly engaging in socially responsible activities (Irwin, Lachowetz, Cornwell, & Clark, 2003; Kern, 2000; Robinson, 2005). The research described in this article identifies, and determines the relative importance of, the drivers—both internal and external—of socially responsible activities by professional sport teams. Using a qualitative approach, interviews were conducted with sport executives, and organizational documents were analyzed. The data showed that external drivers of CSR, in particular key constituents, the interconnectedness of the field, and pressures from the league were more important determinants of CSR initiatives than the internal resources available to deliver CSR efforts (i.e., attention, media access, celebrity players, coaches, facilities). Based on these preliminary findings, we propose a framework of CSR adoption in professional sport that predicts the types of CSR initiatives a sport organization is likely to adopt depending on its internal and/or external orientation and present a research agenda based on the framework.

Babiak is with the School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. Wolfe is with the Dept. of Sport Management, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada.

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