Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

The Role of Social Responsibility, Philanthropy and Entrepreneurship in the Sport Industry

Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

The Role of Social Responsibility, Philanthropy and Entrepreneurship in the Sport Industry

Article excerpt


This introduction to the special issue of the Journal of Management & Organization on social responsibility, philanthropy and entrepreneurship in the sport industry frames the key issues sport businesses, corporate partners, and related nonprofit organizations grapple with to ensure that both the organizations and the social causes which are being addressed benefit in some way. The importance of social responsibility is first examined in the context of corporations and sports. The increasing importance of social issues to sport-related industries and the role of strategic philanthropy is discussed. Next, the connection between social responsibility and philanthropic endeavors is addressed in terms of social entrepreneurship. Finally, the article concludes by highlighting the increased significance of sport in society and how the articles in this special issue contribute to a better understanding of the role of social responsibility, philanthropy and entrepreneurship in sport.

Keywords: sport business, corporate social responsibility, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is playing an increasingly important role in business today, and economic, political and social factors are shaping CSR activities in businesses around the world (Baughn, Bodie, & McIntosh, 2007). The core principle of CSR is that the corporation incurs responsibilities to society beyond profit maximization, as 'corporations possess the power to control and influence the quality of life of employees, customers, shareholders and residents of local communities in which they operate' (Pava & Krausz, 1997, p. 357). Companies, it is thus argued, have a fundamental responsibility to act in a manner that positively contributes to their stakeholders and the communities in which they exist (Sagawa & Segal, 2000). Increasingly, important social and economic issues such as rapid technological change, the health of children and youth, environmental concerns, a diverse and aging population, and mounting concerns regarding the growing social divide have resulted in a refocusing on the responsibility of firms to the communities in which they operate (Margolis & Walsh, 2003; Sagawa & Segal, 2000; Walsh, 2003). The articles in the special issue of this journal detail the changing role and perception of CSR in business today as it is reflected in sport organizations.

The intersection between business and society is coming under closer scrutiny given the increasingly sophisticated understanding of ethical issues and changing values and norms of customers and other stakeholders. This has led to greater expectations of businesses to demonstrate higher ethical standards and make significant contributions to a sustainable future. Companies however, must engage in a delicate balancing act with respect to CSR. To the extent that businesses are perceived to engage in CSR for self-interested motives, customer and stakeholder perceptions of CSR as a public relations exercise or 'green-washing' can lead to a damaged brand image and corporate reputation. On the other hand, if businesses do not engage or promote their CSR activities, they may fall out of favor with the public and lose important customer loyalty and support.

To that end, many businesses are engaging in strategic philanthropy. This type of philanthropic engagement is part of a broader CSR framework that encompasses ethical business conduct, diversity and protection of the environment, and following legal regulations (Bruch & Walter, 2005; Carroll, 1999). Strategic philanthropy is an area that has received little academic attention, although recently some authors have made inroads in attempting to understand the evolution and structure of organization's strategic socially responsible efforts (c.f., Brammer & Millington, 2005; Bruch & Walter, 2005; Gan, 2006; Godfrey, 2005; Ricks & Williams, 2005; Saiia, Carroll, & Buchholtz, 2003). …

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