According to Morgan, our understanding of organizational life can be informed by a number of images of organization. In this article it is argued that in sport management research one or two of these images have dominated the field, to the exclusion of others. As such, we have developed only a partial and limited view of the organizational and managerial reality of sport organizations. If we are to enhance our understanding of the structure and processes of sport organizations we need to explore alternative images of these organizations, as this will ultimately help us produce better managers.
Laura Cousens and Trevor Slack
The organizational field encompassing North American major league professional sport changed dramatically over the last quarter century despite the constraining forces associated with this level. Given this, the purpose of this article was to explore the evolution of one organizational field over an extended time period in order to enhance our understanding of the multifaceted nature of its change. Four dimensions of this field were considered for study: communities of actors, their exchange processes, their governance structures, and their beliefs and institutional logics of action. These dimensions were operationalized to provide evidence of the evolution of the organizational field. Data were collected from personal interviews with league and franchise leaders, from documents retrieved from the leagues and Halls of Fame, and from a selection of historical books. The results of this research show increased interaction among the actors in the field, a growing awareness that they were engaged in a common enterprise, and the erosion of the coexisting logics of action prevalent in the field in the early 1970s.
Trevor Slack and Bob Hinings
Increased interest in organizational change (i.e., shifts in an organization's structure, strategy, and processes) has led to considerable diversity in the theoretical approaches used to explain the phenomenon. This theoretical diversity has caused some scholars to suggest that a more complete understanding of organizational phenomena such as change is obtained when different theoretical perspectives are used in conjunction with one another. This paper examines a process of change that has been occurring in Canadian national sport organizations. Utilizing the theoretical approaches found in work on resource dependence theory, institutional theory, organizational culture, and the role of transformational leaders in managing change, the paper shows how these approaches explain different aspects of the change process. It also shows how a more complete understanding of change may be gained by using more than one theoretical perspective.
Laura Cousens and Trevor Slack
Many owners of fast food franchises use sport sponsorship as a means of penetrating their local market area. The purpose of this paper is to examine how these franchisees make decisions about sponsorship requests that allow them to enhance their own position within their local market while at the same time ensuring the consistency and continuity of image that successful fast food chains require. Data were collected from interviews with representatives of 11 fast food companies, from articles in the trade literature, and from company documents. Ranging on a continuum from total franchisee control of decision making to a situation in which the autonomy of the local outlet is eliminated, three approaches to making decisions about sponsoring sport teams and events were identified: the independent approach, the communal approach, and the controlled approach. The structure and corporate culture of the restaurant chain are shown to be significant factors influencing the way decisions about sport sponsorship are made.
John Amis and Trevor Slack
Contingency theorists have consistently identified size as a major factor influencing the structure of an organization. This study examines the size-structure relationship in a set of voluntary sport organizations (VSOs). The results of the study generally support the trends identified in the organization theory literature; they also demonstrate that VSOs have unique features that influence the effect that size has on their structural arrangements. This is most noticeable when the association, or more specifically the lack of association, between size and the structure of decision making is examined. The relationship between professionals and volunteers, and their associated struggle for control of these organizations, is identified as a principal factor contributing to this situation.
Tim Berrett and Trevor Slack
Sport sponsorship is frequently described as a strategic activity, and thus, it is influenced by both competitive and institutional forces. Using a sample of 28 Canadian companies, this study explores the influence of competitive and institutional pressures on those individuals who make decisions about their company's sport sponsorship initiatives. The results show that the sponsorship activities of rival companies were influential in a company's sponsorship choices. This was particularly the case in highly concentrated industries. We also show some evidence of a first-mover advantage in sponsorship decision-making but found preemptive strategies to yield little competitive advantage. In addition to these pressures from the competitive environment, institutional pressures from companies in the same geographic area, in the form of mimetic activity, in the form of involvement in social networks, and through the occupational training of the decision makers—all played a role in the choices made about what activities to sponsor.
Danny O’Brien and Trevor Slack
The organizational field that constitutes English rugby union has undergone substantial change since 1995. This paper builds on earlier work by O’Brien and Slack (2003a) that established that a shift from an amateur to a professional dominant logic in English rugby union took place between 1995 and 2000. Utilizing ideas about institutional logics, isomorphism, and diffusion, the current paper explores how this shift in logics actually evolved. Data from 43 interviews with key individuals in English rugby union form the main data source for the study. The results show that isomorphic change in accord with a new professional logic diffused throughout the field by way of three distinct diffusion patterns: status driven, bandwagon, and eventually, the social learning of adaptive responses. An initial period of high uncertainty, intense competitive pressures, and sustained financial crises resulted in unrestrained mimesis in the first two seasons of the professional era. However, this gave way in the third season to increased interorganizational linkages, coalition building, and political activity that promoted normative and coercive pressures for a consolidation of the game’s infrastructure and future development.