The dynamics of change in a complex sporting environment : Australian cricket
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During the period 1995 to 2005, Australian cricket was considered by most of their opponents to be the world leader in the sport in terms of innovation, strategy and tactics. The expertise on and off the field was chiefly responsible for this success. However, this was insufficient to ensure its commercial competitiveness among sports organisations in Australia. This required Cricket Australia to undertake a series of significant organisational changes. This study investigated the reasons for undertaking these changes, factors that led to the successful implementation of the selected change initiatives and the factors that enabled these changes to be sustained. The setting for this study is Australian Cricket and the changes that were implemented between 2005 and 2015. The research aimed at seeking a deeper understanding of the complex issues of change management and the sustainability of change in a complex sporting organisation. The research methodology was exploratory, qualitative and based on a multiple case study approach. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews from a diverse sample of respondents from different parts of Cricket Australia and State Cricket Associations. The respondents included Board members, CEO’s, executive managers, staff and volunteers. The data collected from interviews was supplemented by secondary data obtained from the organisation as well as what was reported in the media and observations. Results of the study highlighted the complex, multifaceted and situational nature of change in a sporting environment where the implementation of change proved to be a challenging task. Findings indicated that even though organisational change was driven by the highest levels of the organisation, necessary conditions such as engaging with key stakeholders and developing a trusting environment had to be created to ensure the success of the change initiative and its sustainability. Three selected cases of organisational change were investigated. The three cases studied included: 1. the intervention into game development with the intention being to increase participation levels in the sport 2. the establishment of a ‘best practice’ corporate governance model and a reorganised Board 3. the re-launch of the domestic Twenty20 cricket competition – the Big Bash League Through the analysis of the data collected each of the change initiatives demonstrated the importance of leadership, personal and shared experiences and the positive impact of a shared vision or strategic direction to succeed and sustain the implemented change. Engaging team members in a shared vision was not only a key component of transformational leadership but it was essential in order to provide direction and clarity of purpose. This study revealed that a vision or strategic direction provides orientation and meaning for leaders and teams and is a strong driving force for the successful implementation and sustainability of change in a complex sporting environment. The results of this study contribute to the theory and practice of change management and sustaining change in sports organisations.
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