This investigation examined how a network of knowledge-based professionals—the Canadian Sport for Life Leadership Team (CS4LLT)—as a newly emerging organizational form was able to influence the Canadian sport policy and governance process in an attempt to reshape Canadian sport. The analysis draws upon the epistemic community approach (Haas, 1992; Haas & Adler, 1992) and empirical data collected as part of an in-depth case study examination into the leadership team and senior Sport Canada officials. The findings support the notion that the CS4LLT, as a network of knowledge-based professionals with legitimated and authoritative and policy-relevant expertise (epistemic community), was able to influence the Canadian sport policy process through (i) influencing key governmental actors by (re)framing policy-relevant issues and (ii) establishing knowledge/truth claims surrounding athlete development, which, in turn, enabled direct and indirect involvement in and influence over the sport policy renewal process. More broadly, the study draws attention to the potential role and importance of knowledge-based professional networks as a fluid, dynamic, and responsive approach to organizing and managing sport that can reframe policy debates, insert ideas, and enable policy learning.
Mathew Dowling is with the Department of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom. Marvin Washington is with the Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.