Interorganizational relationships have become increasingly important for sport organizations. The purpose of this study was to explore the determinants and conditions of partnership formation in a group of collaborating nonprofit, public, and private organizations. A conceptual framework that includes the determinants of legitimacy, stability, necessity, asymmetry, reciprocity, and efficiency were used. Conditions including interdependence and presence of an interpersonal network were also explored. This research employed qualitative methods to examine partners’ reasons for developing interorganizational relationships in a sport context. For the collaborating organizations, the determinants of legitimacy, stability, reciprocity, and efficiency prevailed as important motives for relationship formation. These findings help to refine and apply contemporary theory to sport management and can be used to help manage interorganizational relationships.
Kathy Babiak and Richard Wolfe
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an area of increasing importance for many companies. Professional sport teams, also, are increasingly engaging in socially responsible activities (Irwin, Lachowetz, Cornwell, & Clark, 2003; Kern, 2000; Robinson, 2005). The research described in this article identifies, and determines the relative importance of, the drivers—both internal and external—of socially responsible activities by professional sport teams. Using a qualitative approach, interviews were conducted with sport executives, and organizational documents were analyzed. The data showed that external drivers of CSR, in particular key constituents, the interconnectedness of the field, and pressures from the league were more important determinants of CSR initiatives than the internal resources available to deliver CSR efforts (i.e., attention, media access, celebrity players, coaches, facilities). Based on these preliminary findings, we propose a framework of CSR adoption in professional sport that predicts the types of CSR initiatives a sport organization is likely to adopt depending on its internal and/or external orientation and present a research agenda based on the framework.
Daniel Yang and Kathy Babiak
A specific form of corporate social responsibility—corporate philanthropy—has received little attention in sport scholarship despite the increased formalization of this business function in practice. Specifically, few studies have explored the institutional mechanisms that influence the corporate philanthropy of professional sport teams. Given that teams receive simultaneous institutional pressures from their league and from the community in which they operate, this study examined how the presence of multiple peers from different fields affected teams in terms of determining the appropriate level of philanthropic activity. The hypotheses were tested through a longitudinal analysis of philanthropic data from team foundations in four professional leagues in the United States from 2005 to 2017. The authors found that teams were more likely to be affected by the philanthropic giving levels of league peers than local peers. Overall, this study provides a better understanding of simultaneous institutional pressures shaping the philanthropic activities of professional sport teams.
Kathy Babiak and Stacy-Lynn Sant
Professional athletes are increasingly engaged in social impact efforts via charitable endeavors. Despite seemingly good intentions in these efforts, the media’s representation of athlete philanthropy varies widely. This study examines how discourses of athlete charity are represented in U.S. media coverage. Over 100 newspaper articles were obtained for the period of 2005–2017. The authors conducted a qualitative analysis which consisted of attribute coding for basic article characteristics, identification of both framing and reasoning devices, and deductive coding to identify generic media frames. The authors present an adapted frame matrix highlighting the salient frames in media coverage of athlete philanthropy. Our results show that athlete charitable efforts are related to a personal or emotional connection or linked to an economic perspective around philanthropy. A third frame reflected a moral underpinning to athletes’ charitable work. The authors discuss managerial implications for teams and leagues that provide support for athletes’ charitable work, as well as for the athletes themselves.
Matthew Juravich, Steven Salaga, and Kathy Babiak
This study integrates upper echelons theory into the sport management literature by investigating general manager (GM) strategic decision-making in the National Basketball Association. Specifically, this research examines individual contextual variables as they relate to the human resource decision-making tendencies of GMs. Utilizing 17 seasons of data on team performance and individual GM characteristics, we estimate two-stage panel regression models to examine the relationship between GM-related variables and organizational performance. We find that both GM technical experience and GM education are positively related to winning and efficiency. The results also illustrate the importance of acquiring elite-level talent and indicate positive returns to GMs whom are able to do so. These findings are relevant for team ownership and suggest a link between organizational performance and the personal characteristics of league GMs. The analysis furthers our understanding of the GM–team player talent–organizational performance relationship in professional sport.
Lisa Kihl, Kathy Babiak, and Scott Tainsky
As corporate community initiatives (CCI) in sport are becoming an important dimension of corporate social responsibility, a key issue is evaluating the quality of the processes by which they are delivered and how they are managed. The purpose of this study was to explore the implementation process of a professional sport team’s CCI using program evaluation theory (Chen, 2005). Interviews were conducted with 42 key stakeholders (team executives, partnership implementers, participants, parents, coaches) from one Major League Baseball team’s CCI to understand critical processes involved in CCI implementation and execution. The findings showed concerns in the quality of program implementation with the: 1) the partnership agreement, 2) the ecological context, 3) protocol and implementation, and 4) target population. We propose an iterative model of program evaluation for use in the sport context. We conclude the paper with recommendations for further research in this area and implications for practitioners.
Kathy Babiak, Lucie Thibault, and Annick Willem
This article reviewed, synthesized, and analyzed the research published on interorganizational relationships (IORs) in sport and sport-related contexts. In total, 162 articles were analyzed along the dimensions of publication rate and outlet, geographical scope, disciplinary domain, methods used, levels of analysis, setting, and theoretical framing. Results revealed an increased emphasis on composition, structure, and process dimensions of IORs. Overall, the diverse perspectives, questions, and contexts explored not only contributed to the richness of the field, but also underscored a lack of consensus in theories, concepts, and frameworks useful to assess IORs among sport organizations. Based on the gaps found, research prospects are identified including a focus on network and individual levels of analysis, comparative and cross-cultural studies, understanding the impact and outcomes of IORs and their value for innovation and organizational learning, and examining how the interconnected nature of IOR domains affect their success or failure. These are areas in the context of sport that have been largely overlooked but which could make substantial contributions to further understand IORs in sport management and its respective parent disciplines.
Kathy Babiak, Brian Mills, Scott Tainsky, and Matthew Juravich
This study explored the philanthropic landscape of professional athletes and their charitable foundations. This research also investigated factors influencing the formation of philanthropic foundations among this group of individuals. First, data were collected to identify athletes in four professional North American sport leagues who had formed charitable foundations. Then, 36 interviews were conducted with athletes, foundation directors, league and team executives and a sport agent to explore the motives and beliefs about philanthropy in professional sport. Using the theory of planned behavior, this paper identified the factors considered in the formation of charitable foundations in this unique group, primarily focusing on attitudes (altruistic and self-interested), perceived behavioral control, subjective norms, self-identity and moral obligation as antecedents to athlete philanthropic activity. The paper also discusses the unique context in which these individuals operate, some of the particular constraints they face, and identifies opportunities for athlete foundations and their partners.