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Kathryn L. Heinze and Di Lu

Institutional research increasingly suggests that organizations are not passive recipients of institutional demands. Organizations can adopt a variety of strategies, including dismissing, decoupling, and co-opting, in response to pressure to change. Over time, organizations likely adopt different approaches, particularly as the institutional field continues to evolve. Through a longitudinal case study of the National Football League’s responses to player concussions, we investigated shifts in how a powerful sport governing body responds to institutional change over time. We found that the National Football League moved through different responses, from more reactive strategies—including dismissing, decoupling, and acquiescing—to proactive attempts to control institutional change. Using data on the National Football League, we offer propositions about the factors that may influence organizational responses. This study advances understanding of powerful sport governing bodies’ responses to institutional change.

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Kathryn L. Heinze, Sara Soderstrom and Jennifer Zdroik

The rise and institutionalization of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in sport is captured in a growing body of work in sport management. This literature suggests professional teams should be strategic in their approaches—matching internal resources with external needs—but we lack an understanding of the processes and mechanisms in the evolution to more strategic CSR, as well as specific practices that characterize these approaches. Further, by focusing on broad trends in how and why teams are adopting CSR, we miss the opportunity to learn from teams with innovative and authentic CSR approaches. To address these gaps, this article uses a qualitative case-study approach to examine how one professional team in the U.S.—the Detroit Lions—evolved their CSR to a more strategic and authentic partnership-focused model. Our findings point to key process steps and mechanisms in the decision making around, and implementation of, this approach, including the role of organizational structure, leadership, and community partnerships. We draw out themes around these central partnerships and highlight best practices. In offering a more nuanced understanding of professional sport CSR process and practice, we contribute to the literature on CSR in sport, sport-community partnerships, and sport and city revitalization.

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Landy Di Lu and Kathryn L. Heinze

Multilevel examinations of sport policy institutionalization are scarce in sport management scholarship. As sport policies diffuse across geographic boundaries, there is often variation in the timing of adoption. In this study, the authors used event history analysis to examine the effect of institutional factors, within and between states, on the speed of youth sport concussion legislation adoption. Our quantitative analyses show that a series of intrastate factors—state norms, disruptive events, and local advocacy—had a significant influence on the timing of state policy adoption, but interstate social networks did not. Supporting qualitative data provide additional insight about the relationship between disruptive events and local advocacy in the adoption of concussion legislation. This study contributes to a better understanding of institutional factors in the diffusion of sport policy across geographic boundaries and offers an approach for future research examining variation in sport policy or practice adoption.