In this article, we argue that neoinstitutional theory can increase our understanding of the different ways nations develop structures for top-level sport. Theorists of the neoinstitutional school concentrate on how and to what degree organizations adapt to both formal and informal expectations in their institutional environment. Elite sports organizations participate in different organizational fields, and that pulls the organization in different directions. The empirical case for our discussion is the organization of elite sport in Norway. We will attempt to place elite sport in Norway in an international context by relating its development, structure, and working procedures to the development of corresponding elite sport systems in other Western countries. In addition to striking similarities among various national models for the organization of top-level sport, there are distinguishing national features that result from different cultural and political traditions.
Augestad and Hansen are with the Department of Sports and Outdoor Life Studies at Telemark University College, Hallvard Eikas plass, 3800 Bø, Norway. Bergsgard is with Telemark Research Institute, Box 4, 3833 Bø, Norway.