Responses to multi-level institutional complexity in a national sport federation

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sport Management Review, 2019
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Pedras Taylor & Frawley (2019) SMR Corrected Proof .pdfPublished Version1.03 MB
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© 2019 Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand National Sport Federations are responsible for governing all aspects of a sport within their respective countries. In developing and promoting their sport National Federations must respond to multi-level complexity arising from internal stakeholder needs and commercial, government and social demands. While organisational complexity responses have been extensively researched, little of this work has considered the unique positioning of sport federations. Drawing on the theoretical perspective of institutional logics and complexity, the authors adopted a case study approach to investigate Triathlon Australia's response to its complex operating environment, conducting 18 in-depth semi-structured interviews with current and former board members, chief executives, senior managers, and government representatives responsible for national sport policy and funding. Interview data were complemented with an examination of Triathlon Australia's annual reports and Australian government policy documents (1998–2016 period). Four themes and several organisational responses’ themes emerged from the inductive and iterated thematic data analysis: (a) external complexity – alignment, diversification, transcendence, negotiation; (b) interstitial complexity – empathy, formalisation, collaboration, specialisation; (c) internal complexity – division, balance, leverage; and (d) emotions – connection, harness. Driven by quasi-insolvency and admission into the Olympic programme, and national government policy requirements for funding, Triathlon Australia responded to its complex environment by embracing all logics, designs and agendas, unravelling new ways to solve or mitigate it via hybrid responses. Implications for both theory and practice are outlined.
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