Sustaining commercial viability and community benefits: management and leverage of a sport-for-development event

Publication Type:
Journal Article
European Sport Management Quarterly, 2019, 19 (4), pp. 502 - 519
Issue Date:
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© 2018, © 2018 European Association for Sport Management. Research question: When managed strategically, sport events have the capacity to generate economic, sociocultural, and health-related benefits for host communities. To date, the majority of academic research has focused on the impact components of large-scale and mega-sport events, such as the Olympic Games. In an attempt to provide empirical evidence of management strategies and tactics related to small-scale events, the purpose of this study was to examine how an event business strategically manages and leverages an event to sustain its commercial viability, while focusing on generating social benefits for the community. Research methods: Through the lens of sport-for-development theory and event leverage concepts, we explore the case of an annual, mass participation sporting event on the island of Spetses, Greece. Against the background of financial hardship and subsequent social disparity in the country, our qualitative investigation includes 19 semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders of the Spetses Mini Marathon. Results and findings: Outcomes of the qualitative analysis indicated three main thematic categories: (a) managing context, (b) engaged change agent, and (c) involved community. In the midst of an economic crisis, the change agent managed to secure the commercial sustainability of the event, while generating several social, cultural, economic, and sporting benefits for the local community through a participatory community approach. Implications: In discussing our findings, we provide implications for strategic management and leverage of local sport events, and we highlight opportunities and challenges for maximizing the reputational capital for organizers as well as social benefits for communities.
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