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Lisa M. Kikulis

The purpose of this paper was to broaden the discussion and debate about the continuity and change in the governance and decision making of Canada's NSOs and to develop arguments that address why institutional theory provides a strong foundation for advancing our understanding and management of this continuity and change. First, the theoritical contributions of institutional theorists are discussed. This is followed by a critical evaluation of previous institutional perspectives on change in Canada's NSOs. Then a description is given of three aspects of governance and decision making—the institutionalization of volunteer boards, the deinstitutionalization of volunteer control, and the semi-institutionalization of paid executive roles—that provides an alternative institutional explanation of continuity and change in governance and decision making in NSOs. The paper concludes with some suggestions for future research and a consideration of the implications for practice.

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Larena Hill and Lisa M. Kikulis

This research examines the dynamics of strategic decision making within the western Canadian university athletic system. Using a framework developed from the Bradford studies (Hickson, Butler, Cray, Mallory, & Wilson, 1986) and Butler (1991), we focused on three key elements of decision making; complexity, politically, and the rules of the game. Using these concepts, this paper presents a case study analysis of the decision process that centered around the potential restructuring of the Canada West University Athletic Association and the Great Plains Athletic Conference. Qualitative research methods were used to collect and analyze data from documents and interview transcripts. The results show that the diversity of interests, level of influence, and both the constraining and enabling rules of the game contribute to the way the decision topic of restructuring was interpreted, what behaviors were enacted, and how the decision making process emerged to deal with this topic.

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Lisa M. Kikulis, Trevor Slack, and Bob Hinings

The theoretical rationale underpinning this study was that decision making structures are tightly coupled to the core values of organizations and thus have a high impact on organizational design change. Taking a fine-grained approach to the analysis of decision making, the purpose of this study was to determine whether amateur sport organizations have shifted away from the dominant paradigm of volunteer-led decision making in favor of professional staff authority and autonomy over strategic decisions. Data from a population of 36 Canadian national sport organizations were used to show that changes in decision making have occurred. However, the shift in control from volunteers to professionals has not been established. In addition, change in decision making varied according to the direction of change, the decision making dimension, and the decision topic.

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Lisa M. Kikulis, Trevor Slack, and C.R. Hinings

The period between 1984 and 1988 was one of considerable change in the Canadian sport system. National sport organizations (NSOs) were subject to institutional pressures from the government agency Sport Canada to dispense with their traditional operating procedures and move to a more professional bureaucratic organizational design. Researchers who have studied this time period have suggested that NSOs were passive receptors of these government pressures and that they acquiesced to the changes promoted by Sport Canada. This paper challenges this idea and suggests that the role of human agents and the choices they made in response to the pressures emanating from the state agency are important aspects of the change dynamic. Using data from a study of 36 NSOs, this paper shows that NSOs demonstrated resistance in the form of pacifying activities and ceremonial conformity.

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Lisa M. Kikulis, Trevor Slack, Bob Hinings, and Alan Zimmermann

The theoretical rationale underlying this study was that a variety of structural design types exist in amateur sport organizations and that their structural characteristics may be effectively measured, scaled, and compared. Characteristics were defined along three dimensions of organizational structure: specialization, standardization, and centralization. The approach used to identify the structural design types was the creation of an organizational taxonomy. Based on the measurement of 15 structural scales for 59 provincial sport organizations, Ward’s hierarchical fusion algorithm clustering technique was used to partition these data into homogeneous subsets. Analysis revealed 8 structural design types. The results, while providing support for the idea that there is a trend toward a more professional and bureaucratic form for amateur sport organizations, also suggest that it is important to consider the potential variety in the structural design of these organizations.