The period between 1984 and 1988 was one of considerable change in the Canadian sport system. National sport organizations (NSOs) were subject to institutional pressures from the government agency Sport Canada to dispense with their traditional operating procedures and move to a more professional bureaucratic organizational design. Researchers who have studied this time period have suggested that NSOs were passive receptors of these government pressures and that they acquiesced to the changes promoted by Sport Canada. This paper challenges this idea and suggests that the role of human agents and the choices they made in response to the pressures emanating from the state agency are important aspects of the change dynamic. Using data from a study of 36 NSOs, this paper shows that NSOs demonstrated resistance in the form of pacifying activities and ceremonial conformity.
Lisa M. Kikulis is with the College of Physical Education, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 0W0. Trevor Slack is with the Department of Physical Education and Sport Studies and C.R. Hinings is with the Department of Organizational Analysis, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2H9.