Voluntary Sports Clubs´(Wider) Societal Role: An Empirical Investigation of EU Sport Policy

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The significant and growing impact of sport on Europe’s economy and society is re- flected in the fact that sport policy reached supranational status with the Lisbon treaty in 2011. Since then, the European Commission (EC) as the executive branch of the European Union supports and coordinates the societal role, the economic dimension, and the organization of sport. The societal benefits of the participation in grassroots sports – traditionally formed by voluntary sports clubs (VSCs) – are explicitly recog- nized. Based on their assumed capability to link with the grassroots of society through the provision of (sporting) services, their organizational dominance, structure, and extensive voluntary work, VSCs have increasingly been cited to promote social and citizenship values, to serve as arenas of social inclusiveness, and to combat dysfunctions of sport. However, research on the conditions under which VSCs could implement (societal) sport policy more efficiently and effectively is still scare. Consequently, this cumulative thesis aims to contribute to the development of evidence-based EU sport policy by evaluating potential facilitators and constraints for a (wider) societal role of VSCs.
The present thesis begins by introducing three central concepts: the (wider) societal role of VSCs, organizational capacity, and institutional pressures. The subsequent chap- ters focus on different societal (dys)functions. Chapter 2 investigates three dimensions of a wider societal role that are specified in current EU Work Plans of Sport. Particu- lar attention is giving to the role of gender diversity in leadership structures of VSCs. Chapter 3 develops potential drivers of VSCs’ engagement in the process of integrating refugees with an explicit focus on the effect of institutional logics. Chapter 4 combines sociological and economic perspectives to conceptualize match-fixing as a serious or- ganizational problem in the VSC context. Potential protective factors concerning this dysfunction of sport are empirically evaluated. In the concluding chapter of this thesis, potential priority areas of EU sport policy are derived from the empirical results of the included studies, and compared to current funding priorities within the Erasmus+ Sport programme. Implications for the involved stakeholders are developed from a capacity-building perspective; avenues for future research are delineated.
The current body of literature on the societal (dys)functions of VSCs is extended by shifting the level of policy analysis to the EU level. Moreover, the present thesis contributes to evidence-based EU-sport policy by empirically evaluating potential facil- itators and constraints or a wider societal role. As a by-product, evidence on pressing societal issues of sport management – namely gender equality in leadership struc- tures, the integration of refugees into the organized sport system, and match-fixing
– is provided. A theoretical contribution lays in the advancement of the framework of organizational capacity. For example, the framework is enriched by considering additional appropriate theoretical concepts such as the information-decision-making model, institutional logics, and public secrecy.
Original languageGerman
Place of PublicationKöln
PublisherDeutsche Sporthochschule Köln
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 2019