Critical social science is an underused paradigm in sport management. It can, however, help reveal the bad and ugly sides of sport, so we can uncover new ways to promote the good sides of it. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the relevance of this paradigm for sport management teaching, practice, and research. A key assumption of the critical paradigm is that organizations are best viewed as operating in a wider cultural, economic, and political context characterized by asymmetrical power relations that are historically entrenched. Research is not neutral because the goal is to promote social change by challenging dominant ways of thinking and acting that benefit those in power. Conducting critical sport management research requires a specific skill set and adequate training is essential. Drawing on the work of Alvesson and Deetz (2000), the three tasks required to conduct critical social science are insight, critique, and transformative redefinition. These tasks are described and a number of sport-related examples are provided.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Critical Sport Management Research
A Note from the Editor
Edited by Wendy Frisby
Can Gender Equity Be More Equitable?: Promoting an Alternative Frame for Sport Management Research, Education, and Practice
Sally Shaw and Wendy Frisby
Gender research in sport management has been dominated by liberal feminist theory, which does little to challenge or alter dominant gendered discourses and power structures within sport organizations. In this paper, the limitations of three existing conceptual frames for understanding gender equity are discussed. A fourth frame is proposed that builds on the work of Ely and Meyerson (2000a), Meyerson and Kolb (2000), and Rao, Stuart, and Kelleher (1999). We argue that the fourth frame, based on poststructural feminist theory, provides an important alternative, addressing the complexities of gender relations in sport organizations through the processes of critique, narrative revision, and experimentation. We extend the fourth frame by considering two additional elements: (a) the intersection of gender with other aspects of diversity and (b) a deconstruction of the traditional discourses that pit gender equity against organizational effectiveness using Bauman’s (2001) concept of moral sensitivity. The implications of the fourth frame are then discussed in relation to sport management teaching, research, and practice.
Is Self-Employment Liberating or Marginalizing? The Case of Women Consultants in the Fitness and Sport Industry
Laurene Rehman and Wendy Frisby
Women are responsible for large growth rates in self-employment in many industrialized countries, yet little is known about how they interpret or experience the work they do. In the literature, two competing images of self-employment for women have emerged. With the liberation perspective, self-employment is associated with self-fulfillment, autonomy and control, substantial financial rewards, and increased flexibility in balancing work and family demands. In contrast, the marginality perspective portrays self-employment as a low paying, unstable form of home-based work that combines incompatible work and domestic roles while marginalizing women's work in the economy. The purpose of this study was to examine the work experiences of women consultants in the fitness and sport industry based on the liberation and marginality perspectives of self-employment. Observations of home-based work sites, interviews, and validation focus groups were conducted with 13 women who were currently working or had previously worked as fitness and sport consultants. The results revealed that social context, stages of business development, the personal situations of the women, gender relations and body image issues, and the nature of the work itself influenced whether the women described their experiences as liberating or marginalizing.
A Critical Management Studies Approach to Sport Management Education: Insights, Challenges and Opportunities
Sally Shaw, Richard Wolfe, and Wendy Frisby
Sport management education has developed in a manner consistent with conventional management education, focusing on traditional instrumental performance measures and largely ignoring wider social considerations. We endeavour to contribute to the advancement of critical approaches in sport management education. While arguing for the benefits of a sport management education that addresses the complex social issues faced in sport, we provide illustrations of critical teaching in sport management, offering examples from personal pedagogical experience. We conclude with a discussion of pragmatic issues faced in adopting a critical orientation within sport management. Our aim is to provide an approach framed by critical thought that can be used to complement existing teaching paradigms to enhance and bolster the rigour and depth of teaching in sport management.
Understanding the Sport Sponsorship Process from a Corporate Perspective
Robert Copeland, Wendy Frisby, and Ron McCarville
Canadian corporations with advertising budgets in excess of $50,000 Cdn that are currently involved in sport sponsorship were contacted through a mailed survey. They were asked about the length and nature of their sport sponsorship involvements, the criteria used to select events, post-event evaluation methods, and reasons for discontinuing past sponsorships. The results revealed that these companies valued sport sponsorship as an important form of marketing communication but supplemented sponsorship initiatives with a variety of other communication measures. None viewed sponsorship as a philanthropic exercise. Respondents repeatedly noted the importance of return on investment in making sponsorship decisions. They valued exclusivity, public awareness, and positive image above other criteria when selecting sponsorship opportunities. Most of the sponsors had discontinued a sponsorship relationship in the past. Furthermore, only one-third of the sponsors felt that the benefits exchanged with sport organizers were fair and equitable.
Reflections on Participatory Action Research: The Case of Low-Income Women Accessing Local Physical Activity services
Wendy Frisby, Susan Crawford, and Therese Dorer
In contrast to traditional approaches to research, participatory action research calls for the active involvement of the community—including both the beneficiaries and providers of sport services—in defining research problems, executing interventions, interpreting results, and designing strategies to change existing power structures. The purpose of this paper was to analyze a participatory action research project designed to increase the access of women living below the poverty line and their families to local physical activity services. A framework developed by Green et al. (1995) formed the basis of the analysis. To place the analysis in context, the historical origins and theoretical assumptions underlying participatory action research were addressed. The case of the Women's Action Project demonstrated how the process can result in a more inclusive local sport system and, at the same time, provide a rich setting for examining organizational dynamics including collaborative decision-making, community partnerships, power imbalances, resource control, resistance to change, and nonhierarchical structures.
Putting “Participatory” into Participatory Forms of Action Research
Wendy Frisby, Colleen J. Reid, Sydney Millar, and Larena Hoeber
Although there has been a rise in calls for participatory forms of research, there is little literature on the challenges of involving research participants in all phases of the research process. Actively involving research participants requires new strategies, new researcher and research-participant roles, and consideration of a number of ethical dilemmas. We analyzed the strategies employed and challenges encountered based on our experiences conducting feminist participatory action research with a marginalized population and a variety of community partners over 3 years. Five phases of the research process were considered including developing the research questions, building trust, collecting data, analyzing data, and communicating the results for action. Our goals were to demonstrate the relevance of a participatory approach to sport management research, while at the same time acknowledging some of the realities of engaging in this type of research.