A Longitudinal Study of Power Relations in a British Olympic Sport Organization



Feddersen NB, Morris R, Storm LK, Littlewood MA & Richardson DJ (2021) A Longitudinal Study of Power Relations in a British Olympic Sport Organization. Journal of Sport Management, 35 (4), pp. 312-324.

The purpose was to examine the power relations during a change of culture in an Olympic sports organisation in the United Kingdom. We conducted a 16-month longitudinal study combining Action Research and Grounded Theory. Data collection included ethnography and focus group discussion (n=10), with athletes, coaches, parents, and the national governing body. We supplemented these with twenty-six interviews with stakeholders, and we analysed data using grounded theory. The core concept found was power relations further divided into systemic power and informational power. Systemic power (e.g. formal authority to reward or punish) denotes how the NGB sought to implement change from the top-down and impose new strategies on the organisation. The informational power (e.g. tacit feeling of oneness and belonging) represented how individuals and subunits mobilised coalitions to support or obstruct the sports organisation's agenda. Olympic sports organisations should consider the influence of s power when undertaking a change of culture.

Conflict; power; elite sports; organisational psychology

Journal of Sport Management: Volume 35, Issue 4

Publication date31/07/2021
Publication date online30/12/2020
Date accepted by journal31/08/2020

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Dr Robert Morris

Dr Robert Morris

Associate Professor, Sport