Fitness industry self-regulation: institutional or by choice?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal, 2019, 9 (5), pp. 506 - 524
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© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to document and explore the perceptual motivations for voluntary and continued affiliation with a fitness industry register by its affiliates (“members”) and non-affiliates (“non-members”). The formation of fitness industry registers to impart self-regulation is a common global occurrence. Their sustainment, however, is reliant on the motivations and voluntary support of industry members. Limited work has been done in this area. Design/methodology/approach: This qualitative study uses the interpretive research paradigm, involving semi-structured interviews with 12 Auckland, New Zealand, fitness centre managers, industry associations, New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals (Reps NZ) and Fitness New Zealand. Lenox’s (2006) participation-contingent benefits framework provides the necessary lens to explore the perceptual motivations behind participation/non-participation by fitness centres with an industry self-regulatory system (i.e. Reps NZ). Findings: Whereas participation-contingent benefits are perceived minimal, and exceeded by affiliation limitations, there is institutional congruence for industry regulation to exist, thus creating institutional pressures that encourage affiliation and retention. Whereas affiliates choose to absorb the associated inconveniences of affiliation to “support” Reps NZ, non-affiliates question the register’s regulatory form, choosing to avoid the affiliation costs and limitations. Originality/value: This study lends further support that institutional development is crucial for inclusive, substantive and sustainable self-regulatory systems. Regardless of the perceived low return on participation-contingent benefits, industry self-regulation can be sustained if there is a desire by industry members to maintain the institutional notion that the regulation needs to exist.
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