More than a sport and volunteer organisation: Investigating social capital development in a sporting organisation

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sport Management Review, 2014, 17 (4), pp. 395 - 406
Issue Date:
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© 2014 Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand. This paper presents the findings of a study that examines the development of social capital within an Australian sporting organisation, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA). The study draws on the social capital literature across the not-for-profit sector and specific sport management social capital research. The research design incorporated an interpretive approach with data collected nationally from eight focus groups with key SLSA staff, board members and 'toes in the sand' volunteers. The findings provide fresh insights into the development and understanding of social capital within a sporting organisation. Both bonding and bridging were important social capital outcomes of the organisation's activities, albeit with important implications for antecedents and process. The data presented strong evidence for arguing that within the organisation bonding within the club comes first, which importantly provides a very strong sense of belonging and mutual support for club members, from volunteers through to the board. The strength of bonding provides a powerful base for subsequent bridging capital to the local, regional and national stakeholder communities that are associated with the organisation. Further, social capital develops in both the collective and individual, with leveraging of individual skills contributing to human capital development, which is closely connected to and inseparable from social capital. The paper concludes by discussing the theoretical implications for social capital generally and social capital in a sporting context.
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