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Lesley Ferkins and David Shilbury

This study is positioned within the nonprofit sport context and builds on an emerging body of work in sport governance to investigate how nonprofit sport organizations can develop their governing capability. A rich data set derived from a 2-year action research study in an Australian state sport organization revealed a lack of stakeholder engagement underpinned by confusion about stakeholder-governing responsibility as the central issues in developing governance capability. The lessons drawn from the Squash Vic experience integrated with sport governance literature and stakeholder theory show the need to embed the notion of stakeholder salience or primacy to explain and clarify the dilemma of multiple stakeholders and the lack of stakeholder engagement in the governing process. We introduce Fassin’s (2012) notion of “stakeowner” and associated ideas of reciprocity and responsibility as a helpful characterization of the legal members in the stakeholdergovernance relationship.

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David Shilbury and Lesley Ferkins

This paper presents the outcomes of an 18-month developmental action research study to enhance the governance capability of a national sport organization. Bowls Australia, the national governing body for lawn bowls in Australia, includes nine independent state and territory member-associations. An intervention was designed and implemented with the Bowls Australia Board. The purpose of the intervention was to enact collaborative governance to overcome a perceived cultural malaise in the governance of the sport. This study is one of the first to examine collaborative governance in a federal sport structure. Results demonstrate the utility of collaborative governance to overcome adversarial national, member-state relations for the purpose of establishing a common and unifying vision for bowls, while also enhancing governance capability. This study identified the importance of collective board leadership in governance decision-making throughout the sport. It also highlights future research directions in relation to collective board leadership in federal governance structures.

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Lesley Ferkins and David Shilbury

To learn more about the governance of sport organizations, this study explored what meaning board members of national sport organizations (NSOs) attach to the concept of “strategic capability”. In so doing, the inquiry also identified factors considered to constrain or enable board strategic function. This paper draws on a body of knowledge developed over 38 years on board strategic function, primarily from the commercial setting but also from the emerging body of work in the nonprofit and sport governance setting. Located within the interpretive research paradigm this study engaged a range of different qualitative methods including cognitive mapping and visual imagery. Working across two NSOs in New Zealand, four elements were generated that served as reference points in mapping out the meaning of a strategically able board. These were categorized as the need to have capable people, a frame of reference, facilitative board processes, and facilitative regional relationships.

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Lesley Ferkins, David Shilbury and Gael McDonald

This study investigated how boards of national sport organizations might enhance their strategic capability. Utilizing an action research method and focusing on the case of New Zealand Football (soccer), findings established that greater board involvement in strategy advanced the board’s ability to perform its strategic function. Further findings determined the importance of shared leadership between the board and the CEO, the complex interplay in balancing this relationship and the need to integrate strategy into board processes.

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Lesley Ferkins, James Skinner and Steve Swanson

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Ian O’Boyle, David Shilbury and Lesley Ferkins

The aim of this study is to explore leadership within nonprofit sport governance. As an outcome, the authors present a preliminary working model of leadership in nonprofit sport governance based on existing literature and our new empirical evidence. Leadership in nonprofit sport governance has received limited attention to date in scholarly discourse. The authors adopt a case study approach involving three organizations and 16 participant interviews from board members and Chief Executive Officers within the golf network in Australia to uncover key leadership issues in this domain. Interviews were analyzed using an interpretive process, and a thematic structure relating to leadership in the nonprofit sport governance context was developed. Leadership ambiguity, distribution of leadership, leadership skills and development, and leadership and volunteerism emerged as the key themes in the research. These themes, combined with existing literature, are integrated into a preliminary working model of leadership in nonprofit sport governance that helps to shape the issues and challenges embedded within this emerging area of inquiry. The authors offer a number of suggestions for future research to refine, test, critique, and elaborate on our proposed working model.

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Jon Billsberry, Jacqueline Mueller, James Skinner, Steve Swanson, Ben Corbett and Lesley Ferkins

Conventional approaches to leadership in sport management regard leadership as a leader-centric phenomenon. Recent advances in the generic leadership literature have highlighted the way that people construct their own understanding of leadership and shown that these influence their assessment and responses to people they regard as leaders. This observer-centric perspective is collectively known as the social construction of leadership. In this conceptual paper, we demonstrate how this emerging theoretical approach can reframe and invigorate our understanding of leadership in sport management. We explore the research implications of this new approach, reflect on what this might mean for teaching, and discuss the practical ramifications for leadership in sport management that might flow from the adoption of this approach.