Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Employees' Attitudes towards the Sponsorship Activity of Their Employer and Links to Their Organisational Citizenship Behaviours

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Employees' Attitudes towards the Sponsorship Activity of Their Employer and Links to Their Organisational Citizenship Behaviours

Article excerpt

Executive summary

With a sample of employees who are aware of their firms' sponsorship of a sports property, we examine how beliefs and attitudes towards sponsorship in general and specific attitudes towards the sponsorship activity of the employer may influence employees' perceptions of their employer as well as their behaviour within the organisation. A model is proposed and tested that links employee attitudes towards sponsorship with their organisational behaviours.

A structured survey instrument was developed using constructs previously validated that were then pre-tested and adjusted for an Australian, web-based survey of employees. An opt-in, online panel of screened respondents was used with quota sampling based on firm size--to account for previous findings that indicate sponsorship activity and objectives may vary with firm size. Adult employees who were in full-or part-time employment and aware of their employer's sponsorship activity were accepted. There were 405 accepted completions. Of these, 61% (246) involved sports sponsorship (employees who identified their employer as the sponsor of a sports property) and these were used to test the proposed links, primarily using structural equation modelling (SEM) techniques.

Six hypotheses were proposed, linking employees' beliefs and attitudes towards sports sponsorship in general to specific attitudes towards their employer's sports sponsorship activity, employee perceptions of the external prestige of the sponsorship, their strength of organisational identification arising from this sponsorship, their behaviour intentions and their organisational citizenship behaviours. All hypotheses were supported (p< 0.001).

Findings support the argument that when organisations sponsor a sports-related activity and their employees are aware of that sponsorship, the beliefs and attitudes of employees towards general sponsorship may influence their sponsorship-linked attitudes towards the employer. These attitudes are associated with extra-role behaviours that may prove to be favourable to the employer. This finding highlights the need for businesses to develop sponsorship strategies that take into account employee perceptions of their sponsorship activity and to consider how the sponsorship may impact upon employee behaviour.

An organisation's involvement in a sports sponsorship programme can signal the company's value-orientation: a firm engaged in sponsoring a sporting event, team or person portrays the image of a socially responsible entity as opposed to simply being a profit-making organisation. The culture and environment of a socially responsible organisation can shape attitudes of employees and transform their personal position so that it aligns with overall organisational values. This study supports the potential internal marketing benefit of corporate sponsorship.


Estimated worldwide spending on sponsorship is approximately $33 billion with two-thirds of this expenditure directed at sports-related properties (Olson, 2010). This dominance has been attributed to increased sports media coverage (Olson, 2010), which reaches a mass audience across a range of social classes (Abratt et al, 1987; Ferrand & Pages, 1996). Moreover, sports properties have remained popular with sponsoring organisations due to their intense fan loyalty (Pruitt et al, 2004) and attendance (Clark et al, 2009).

The definition of sports sponsorship used in this paper is consistent with that of corporate sponsorship offered by Fahy et al (2004): "an investment in cash or kind in an event, team or person, in order to secure sponsor's access to the commercial potential associated with that selection" (Meenaghan, 1983, p.9). This definition implies selection based on a benefit or return to the sponsor which can be maximised not only by using sponsorship to communicate with external audiences, but also by ensuring that sponsorship has an internal audience (employees), whose favourable attitudes and behaviours towards the sponsorship can impact on the investment's return. …

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