Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Do Non-Profit Sport Organisations Innovate? Types and Preferences of Service Innovation within Regional Sport Federations

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Do Non-Profit Sport Organisations Innovate? Types and Preferences of Service Innovation within Regional Sport Federations

Article excerpt

Organisations within the non-profit sport sector, such as sport clubs and sport federations, face challenges as they compete for membership and resources such as sponsorship, grants, facilities and volunteers (Newell & Swan, 1995; Vos & Scheerder, 2014; Wicker & Breuer, 2011; Winand, Vos, Zintz, & Scheerder, 2013). Given the competitive pressure that surrounds non-profit sport organisations (NPSOs), and the necessity to differentiate themselves from commercial sport providers (Vos, Breesch, & Scheerder, 2012), such organisations would need to mobilise resources, personal knowledge and skills to implement new ideas, i.e. to innovate. The sport industry has been viewed as a competitive market where being innovative and proactive, favouring risk and creating value are crucial (Ratten, 2010, 2011a, 2011b). Yet little is known about innovation in NPSOs, whether or not they innovate, their attitude towards newness and the type of innovations they eventually adopt. The current exploratory study aims to investigate whether and to what extent sport federations innovate, to identify types of innovation within sport federations, and to highlight preferences in knowledge creation/appropriation according to membership size, categories of sport and managers' personal views. The following research questions are addressed: Do sport federations innovate? What types of innovation are implemented by sport federations? Are there types of innovation favoured by specific categories of sport federations? Do sport federations' directors and board members favour newness, and does it impact innovativeness?

The current paper contributes to the knowledge on sport management, non-profit and innovation by addressing types of innovation developed by organisations in the non-profit sport sector and such organisations' preferences of innovation.

First, the paper defines innovation and service innovation, followed by a review of the literature on innovation in NPSOs. Second, the research context, data collection and analysis are presented in the method section. Third, results setting out percentages of innovative sport federations, their types of innovation and preferences are presented. Finally, a discussion is drawn from the analysis, and research and managerial implications are suggested.


Service innovation

Innovation is the successful exploitation of new ideas (Francis & Bessant, 2005). It was originally conceptualised as a dichotomy of technical versus administrative innovations (Crossan & Apaydin, 2010; Daft, 1982; Damanpour, 1996; Gopalakrishnan & Damanpour, 2000). Technical innovations are directly linked to the core activity of the organisation, such as its main products or services. Administrative innovations involve the organisation's social structure, administrative processes and managerial aspects needed to achieve the organisation's core activity. Recently, different integrative models have been suggested that identify specific types of innovation. Oke, Burke, and Myers (2007) distinguished product innovation from service innovation, where the latter results in improvement in the delivery and attractiveness of a product. Yet this definition is very much linked to products whereas some organisations are not dedicated to manufacture or to sell products, but to offer services only. Indeed, since the core activity of NPSOs is oriented to the delivery of services (e.g. organising sport competitions, running sport programmes and offering training opportunities), these organisations aim at adopting the types of service innovation most relevant to them, as opposed to product innovation (Newell & Swan, 1995; Winand et al., 2013). A definition of service innovation distinct from product delivery has been suggested by researchers such as Damanpour and Aravind (2012), Lee, Ginn, and Naylor (2009) and Walker (2008), as the introduction of new services to existing or new groups of customers in order to increase the effectiveness of the organisation, its quality and/or the customers' satisfaction. …

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