Evaluating Sport Club Board Performance: A Customer Perspective

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Heath McDonald Deakin University

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Emma Sherry La Trobe University

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When assessing board performance, customers are often overlooked as a stakeholder group. Yet, dissatisfied customers have successfully acted to have boards removed, and we have seen this scenario occur repeatedly among professional sport organizations governed by boards. The purpose of this research was to identify the factors affecting customer perceptions of sport club board performance, and guide organizations in the management of those perceptions. After extensive qualitative research, over 20,000 season ticket holders (STHs) from 14 different professional sport clubs were surveyed. The results suggest that a combination of overt performance measures (e.g., profits) and subjective, nonfinancial measures (e.g., feelings of inclusion) are used by customers to assess sport boards. Overall perceptions of the board directly influence customer satisfaction, and are strongly correlated with on-field performance and customer inclusion, suggesting boards are perceived to have a role to play in both areas. Perceptions of board performance are, therefore, worth managing in a holistic manner, balancing strong financial and club management with a particular emphasis on inclusive practices.

McDonald is with Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, 3125 Australia. Sherry is with the School of Management, LaTrobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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