Research partnerships between scholars and sport for development and peace (SDP) organizations are common, but firsthand accounts of the challenges and barriers faced by scholars when forming and sustaining partnerships are rare. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine them, and to uncover strategies to overcome these challenges across different partnership contexts. Eight prominent SDP scholars were interviewed. Guided by collaboration theory and the partnership literature, findings revealed challenges included navigating the political and organizational landscape; securing commitments from organizations with limited resources; negotiating divergent goals, objectives, and understandings; and conducting long-term evaluations and research. Strategies to address these issues involved developing strategic partnerships, cultivating mutual understanding, building trust, starting small, finding the cause champion, and developing a track record of success. Key theoretical and practical implications are drawn forth, as well as intriguing future research directions.
Research Partnerships in Sport for Development and Peace: Challenges, Barriers, and Strategies
Jon Welty Peachey and Adam Cohen
Everyday Things Change: Australian Athlete Communication During the Coronavirus Lockdown
Lewis Whales, Stephen Frawley, Adam Cohen, and Natalia Nikolova
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Australian professional sport leagues were impacted by temporary league shutdowns. One example is the Suncorp Super Netball, the world’s premier netball competition. This commentary paper explores the Suncorp Super Netball league shutdown from the perspective of the players. Our commentary has emerged from an ongoing ethnographic study supported by interviews with two players (a representative on the players association and a club captain) conducted during the league shutdown. Such a shutdown was the first in the history of the league, and it required an unprecedented response, coordinated by interdependent stakeholders. The authors outlined the importance of stakeholder communication in effectively navigating this extraordinary situation. In addition, the authors discussed the usefulness of technology-as-context for teamwork and leadership, given the limitations on physical interaction and geographical separation. In conclusion, the authors proposed recommendations for sport practitioners and potential research directions resulting from the coronavirus-related league shutdown.
“No Idea is a Bad Idea”: Exploring the Nature of Design Thinking Alignment in an Australian Sport Organization
Greg Joachim, Nico Schulenkorf, Katie Schlenker, Stephen Frawley, and Adam Cohen
As research into sport innovation management continues to evolve, the innovation efforts of both for- and non-profit sport organizations are increasingly revealed to be focused on best serving the sport user. Design thinking—a human-centered approach to innovation—may hold promise for sport organizations attempting to identify and deliver on the unmet needs of their users. As such, we undertook a qualitative exploration of the innovation practices of a commercial sport organization, attempting to balance hybrid for- and non-profit service goals. Alignment with design thinking themes was discovered in the organization’s practice, as were performative components of design thinking practice. Our findings suggest that design thinking is suitable—and indeed desirable—for adoption into sport management practice, particularly as a means of enhancing innovation efforts, designing holistic sport experiences, and/or overcoming competing institutional demands.
Investigating a Coed Sport’s Ability to Encourage Inclusion and Equality
Adam Cohen, E. Nicole Melton, and Jon Welty Peachey
The genuine sport of quidditch, based off the Harry Potter franchise, offers an alternative to traditional sport that has grown immensely in terms of popularity and participation. Due to the scarcity of research on coed sports, and the innovative nature of quidditch, the purpose of this research was to use an exploratory qualitative approach to examine impact of the sport on its participants, and to determine how its structure influenced participants’ attitudes toward the opposite gender. Findings revealed the coed structure of the sport led to a positive coed experience for women and men, which in turn developed an increased desire for inclusivity and equality. In addition, both genders reported stereotype reduction due to participation in the sport, and women also reported feeling increased levels of self-confidence and pride. Despite these shifts in attitude, underlying prejudice toward women athletes was still apparent among men who participated in the sport.
Examining Social Capital Development Among Volunteers of a Multinational Sport-for-Development Event
Jon Welty Peachey, Jennifer Bruening, Alexis Lyras, Adam Cohen, and George B. Cunningham
Much sport-for-development (SFD) research has focused on the impact initiatives have on participants, and not on other stakeholders such as volunteers. Some research suggests volunteerism enables social capital gains, while other scholars have been skeptical, with even less known about how volunteers are impacted by working for SFD events rather than for ongoing programs. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate how, if at all, a large, multinational SFD event contributed to social capital development of volunteers. Findings revealed volunteers experienced social capital development through building relationships, learning, and enhanced motivation to work for social change and reciprocity. As very little research has examined the efficacy of SFD events in contributing to social capital development, the findings extend the literature on SFD events. It would be prudent for SFD events to target programming to impact the experience of volunteers to retain them and contribute to social capital development.
The Influence of a Sport-for-Peace Event on Prejudice and Change Agent Self-Efficacy
Jon Welty Peachey, George B. Cunningham, Alexis Lyras, Adam Cohen, and Jennifer Bruening
The purpose of this research project was to examine the impact of participating in a sport-for-peace event and one’s social dominance orientation on prejudice and change agent self-efficacy. In Study 1, participants (n = 136) completed questionnaires both before and following their participation in a sport-for-peace event. The event was designed to ensure both high levels of and quality intergroup contact, with interactions confirmed through a manipulation check. Results from the doubly repeated measures analysis of variance indicate a significant decrease in prejudice and a significant increase in change agent self-efficacy. Social dominance orientation did not influence the nature of these changes. In Study 2, the authors conducted focus group interviews with 27 participants to better understand how the event impacted prejudice and change agent self-efficacy. Results indicate that the team-based sport environment and social opportunities were instrumental in prejudice reduction while the educational platform was important for increasing change agent self-efficacy.
University–Organization Collaboration in Sport for Development: Understanding Practitioners’ Perspectives and Experiences in Research and Evaluation Partnerships
Meredith A. Whitley, Jon Welty Peachey, Julia Leitermann, NaRi Shin, and Adam Cohen
Despite a growing body of scholarship exploring university–organization collaborations in the sport for development (SfD) field, there has been limited consideration of the experiences of practitioners and partnering organizations in these partnerships. The purpose of this study was to examine their experiences when partnering with academic institutions, programs, scholars, and/or students, with a specific focus on research and evaluation partnerships. Interviews were conducted with 22 participants working at 20 SfD organizations in the United States. Findings were organized into six main categories (e.g., motivations, factors that facilitate or impede collaboration, collaboration outcomes). A conceptual process framework for university–organization collaboration emerged from the data. This study is one of the first in the SfD field to examine practitioners’ perspectives of university–organization collaborations centered on research and evaluation activities. The findings help advance the SfD field, identifying the various factors at play as these partnerships are formed, activated, and sustained.