Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Sport Innovation Management: Towards a Research Agenda

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Sport Innovation Management: Towards a Research Agenda

Article excerpt

Introduction

Sport is a global industry affecting many other sectors of the economy through its own traditions and links to the community. There are tacit and unwritten rules about sport that make it different from other industry segments. This is evident in sport products and services having unique attributes that necessitate a distinct management approach, which combines commercial applications and social needs (Baker, McDonald, & Funk, 2016). As a discipline, sport management is still in its infancy but has grown in scholarship and significance in conjunction with sports' integral role in society (Peachey, Borland, Lobpries, & Cohen, 2015). Increasingly, sport is viewed as a multidisciplinary field that includes various sub-disciplines such as "marketing, finance, legal aspects, governance, communication, organizational behaviour and theory, sport for development, tourism, facility management and event management" (Abeza, O'Reilly, Seguin, & Nzindukiyimana, 2015, p. 602). Despite sport having a multidisciplinary approach there has been little written from an innovation management perspective, which is the reason for this paper.

Given the amount of innovation that occurs in the sport industry it is interesting that there still is a lack of research about this topic. Sport is big business that is constantly innovating due to both economic and societal pressures to incorporate new ideas and management practices (Hoeber & Hoeber, 2012). Despite the significance of innovation to sport there is a lack of studies incorporating an innovation perspective. In this paper, the importance of integrating an innovation management view into the sport industry is explained as a way of progressing the field. This also supports the assertion that innovation management needs to adapt to a sports context.

There is not yet a coherent body of literature about the role of innovation in sport despite the innovative behaviours of many sport teams and athletes. Innovation management in sport differs from other contexts due to the emotional and psychological attachment both individuals and businesses have towards sport. This includes sport having a global appeal that transcends language and geographical boundaries, unlike other businesses and industries. Sport is also complex due to the distinct local varieties of sport played in certain geographical regions, in addition to the more general forms of sport played around the world. For these reasons, it is important for scholars to pay more attention to innovation management in a sport context due to the role innovation has in business growth and survival. In addition, innovation management scholars have focused more on the processes and types of innovation rather than its role in a sport context. This demonstrates a gap in the innovation management literature about sport that should be addressed by more research combining both the innovation and sport disciplines.

Most of the existing research on sport management focuses on the practical issues rather than taking a critical management perspective (Frisby, 2005; Knoppers, 2015). This means there is a gap in the literature about developing new theory that is especially relevant in a sports context in order to build its identity and facilitate interdisciplinary research. This has been the result of an emphasis in sport management on developing new interdisciplinary theories (Chalip, 2006). Sport theory is important as it aids the explanation of practical issues that exist in business settings and can be utilised to develop and test new theories (Ferkins & Shilbury, 2015; Slack, 1998). In addition, a theory is more influential if it challenges existing assumptions by filling a gap in the current literature (Alvesson & Sandberg, 2013). The theory of sport innovation management has the potential to be a framework for predicting behaviour and to guide future research. This can lead to better understanding about innovation in a sport context, which is an important area of global business. …

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