Concept of Change in Sporting Organisations

The necessity for change is obvious in all spheres of life. With new knowledge and machinery being introduced, new market products, and shifting consumer behaviours, all organisations selling a service or product require adjusting and improving, which implies they require making changes in the end. Introducing change into a sport organization at any level is reasonably straightforward. Introducing change and persuading the stakeholder that change is essential successfully (even when you are presently successful) is more complicated.

Sports organisations have a predominantly difficult time making changes since they are full of activity. Sports organisations, unlike others, are ordered around a seasonal programme, which becomes gradually busier every year. Each year the amount of sports events enlarges, like with the initiation of future World Cups, qualification rounds, friendly matches, and test events. Sports bodies therefore will require to concentrate on doing things right to protect their schedules from interruptions i.e. on being efficient.

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This leaves the sports organizations with no time to sit back and get a broader view of how the organization is being run. It becomes hard for the organizations to take the time to step aside and question if they are on the right track of action (being efficient) or if fundamental changes are required within the sports organization and the sport in general. Molinsky (1999) suggested that there are several contradictory hindrances to change. Such is the opinion that change is dependent upon management, but that management action can at times be a hindrance to change. This research recognized that an array of the conventional hypothetical accounts could be used to illustrate the change that happened. These included variants of strategic hypothesis, institutional hypothesis, population ecology, systems models and punctuated equilibrium hypothesis.

The fact that these change theories are valuable descriptors is without a reservation. This study was unsuccessful in accounting for change that happened unexpectedly, erratically and without the deliberate control of the coach or manager. However, it is important to note that no data set can account for everything and that a number of the above hypothetical perspectives do not prohibit this type of change or sufficiently explicate it. This paper is impelled by the need to study the view sports coaches have concerning change in their organizations, how they bring change into sport successfully and how they manage to have universal support for that change; and whether change revolutionary or evolutionary (or both). Change is among the most noticeable aspect of all sports organizations.

To be able to stay ‘alive’ and develop, a sports organization must adapt to changes in strategy, size, surroundings and technology. Change can take place in four spheres of a sports organization, namely, technology, services and products, systems and structures and people (McCann, 1991). Irrespective of the field of change, there exist two types of changes: radical change and convergent change. Greenwood and Hinings (1996) posits that radical change is frame bending i.e. totally changing direction.

On the other hand, convergent change is about fine turning a specific detail. The contradictory nature of change comes from the fact that a sport organization must embrace change if it intends to be relevant. However, management prefers the status quo (stability and predictability). A sports organization’s cost output and personnel need to stay relatively unchanged if the organization will be successful. At the same time, sports managers need to look for virgin markets, new technologies and inventive means for service delivery.

The organization therefore, must find the delicate balance between stability, and change. Failure by an organization to change will definitely lead it to “a trajectory of decline.” Conversely, if the organization undergoes rapid change or change just for its sake, will have its operations disrupted. The drive for change may originate outside of the organization setting or from inside the organization. Contingency theorists and population ecologists put the spotlight on outside sources while others who take the contextualist approach suggest the interaction of the two factors. Externally, a wide range of factors can necessitate change in sports organizations.

For example, the invention of new technologies changes the way sports organizations are run, government policies and laws. This may result to changes in the structuring and operations of sports organizations. In an organization, “agents of change” can lead to internal change. “Agents of change” are people in an organization whose main task is to make sure a sports organization makes the crucial changes to increase its efficiency. CEOs, Vice Presidents, coaches outside consultants etc can act as the change agents. These agents of course make changes that are a reflection of their interests.

Change is a political process, must be both in structure, and in dominant ideals held by its members. Organizational transformation is often opposed when coaches, employees and stakeholders do not share the same view about the said change. In addition, people are creatures of routine and do not like the insecurity that come with any change process. There is a number of positive tactics that can be employed to surmount resistance to cange and aid people in dealing with the change in the organization. There are many theories that seek to describe and explain change, its background, substance, and results. Majority of these theories have been hypothesized after drawn out and painstaking qualitative field research, and apparently paint an exact depiction of the investigated organizations.

Consequently, organizational change management studies in quest of testing the truthfulness of such hypotheses or metaphors for change within precise settings (Cooke & Szumal, 1993/Cousens, 1997/Fox-Wolfgramm, Boal, and Hunt, 1998) have inclined to use the hypothesis testing thus relying on the deductive substantiation of preset features. If these features are found in the organization to a statistically significant degree, then the hypotheses may be assertively acknowledged. This would be prove that a certain approach to change was taken within, or forced upon, a particular organizational context. The limitation of this method of theory testing is that it at times ignores the existence or avoid the gathering of data pointing towards other features that depict the usefulness of other hypothetical viewpoints. This examination seeks to apply qualitative methods to probe the significance of opposing change management theories in the management of sport in Australia. Crucially, the use of qualitative evidence ensures that conclusions about theoretical approaches are arrived at inductively.

The results can also be compared to known features connected to recognized theories, as opposed to starting with these features and probing for verification of their presence. The extent to which any of the recognized change administration theories are relevant to the Australian sports is not clear. Differences exist in both the research and the administration of change across the culture and industry level. In fact, the definition of change can differ in every study. In this study, the George and Jones’, (1995) general definition of organizational change as the movement away from a current state to a future state is used. This broad view allows the maximum possibility for identifying change within an organizational setting, and hence is perfect for the purposes of this paper.

In a tumultuous international market, according to Westerbeek and Smith (2003), the Australian sport industry has prospered in the last two decades, manoeuvring, through among other things, major shifts in international broadcasting players and methods, and local financial support and involvement issues. In spite of a small number of revolutionary studies in Australian sport, as Skinner, Stewart, & Edwards (1999) points out that the proof built up abroad and in general business researches, Australian sport change, and administration researchers are chiefly starting from nothing and as such, sport management in the country is faced with considerable knowledge gaps. Generic change inquiries do not concur on the richest theories for perceiving change, some give in depth descriptions of change, and others stress precise, prescriptive interventions (Ginsberg, 1988; Laughlin, 1991). In addition, the insufficient local data mean that there are hardly any “leads.” This study has been proved by the lack of data. The purpose of this investigative study is to present evidence to explain how sport Coaches conceive organizational change.

It aims to determine whether theoretical models correctly mirror the perceptions of practitioners, or whether the perception sport coaches’ of change are indicative of the requirement for additional theory development. Should research on change in Australian sport concentrate mainly on theory development, or should they centre on theory verification and improvement, and toward the advancement and adaptation of existing theories of change in the Australian sporting context? How do Australian sport coaches view the organizational change they go through? The expansion and importance of this question can be rephrased as: Is change in Australian sport so unique that present theories fail to adequately explain it? Consequently, this research serves as a beginning point for further research focusing upon the explanation of practitioners’ perceptions of change. Change scholars have come up with an array of complicated, theoretical models to describe the nature of change in both the industries and organizations. A single way to demystify the intricacies of any of the model is to examine it against two dimensions, namely, mode and level, as postulated by Meyer et al. (1993). Mode denotes the magnitude and pace (how first or slow change takes to complete) of the change, whereas level expresses whether the transformation is happening within a particular organization or happening as part of a general industry-wide reorganization.

For that reason, change can be big or small and may well take place within an organization or within industrial setting. Even though the Meyer et al., typology fails to capture all modules of change, it is re-visited in the discussion segment of this paper as a medium for assessment for two grounds. Firstly, in my opinion the typology is the most wide-ranging existing. Secondly, the resemblance between the findings that came out and the typology were striking. Incremental transformations that take place in organizations presuppose that organizations fine-tune and react to their transforming environments frequently and inntentionally.

On the other hand, scholars like Greenwood & Hinings (1996); Laughlin (1991); Pettigrew (1985) put forward complicated theoretical models for appreciating, and implementing change. Whereas adaptation theorists concern themselves with incremental changes within organizations, metamorphosis theories (Meyer et al., 1993) focus on far-reaching changes within organizations. One takes into consideration calculated change, the other comprehensive. That adaptation and metamorphosis hypotheses are in competition is a suggestion that organizations are inclined to be constant and static, but at times experience considerable change.

A third class of hypothesis is concerned with incremental transformation within industries, as opposed to individual organizations, and may be classified as evolutionary. For instance, population biologists propose that change is brought about because of Darwinian-like “selection” where organizations increasingly develop to match the constrictions of their context. The insinuation is that successful coaches reproduce the activities of other successful organizations. The main idea in this hypothetical perspective is that organizations are pressurized into change by forces from within their institutional setting. Studies into the structural characteristics and calculated approaches of Canadian National Sporting Organizations (NSO’s) by Hinings & Slack (1987); Thibault, Hinings & Slack, (1993) and Kikulis, et al (1989); were the initial research studies that sought to classify and typologize sport bodies based on the corresponding structure and function.

According to Slack (1988) the structural features of an organization are closely align with the organization’s central values. In the same way, Cousens (1997) as well as Slack & Hinings (1992) have employed the model concept (Greenwood & Hinings, 1988) to distinguish organizations based on their values and structural characteristics, thus strengthening the idea that that organizational values and structural features are correlated. These studies all held change to be an evolutionary process carried out from within the organization. The significance of adaptation change hypothesis was laid emphasis on in the nomenclature of Meyer et al. (1993).

Kikulis, Slack, & Hinings (1995b), studied Canadian NSO’s reaction pressures for change which were institutionalized. They found out that there is a penchant for organizations to preserve the status quo when present organizational structures are preserved or strengthened. Kikulis, Slack, & Hinings, (1995a) discovered that the structures, which govern the making of decision, are correlated to central organizational values, which in turn have an effect on structural make up. They also found the level of fit between operational and structural systems to determine to a certain degree whether an organization experiences gradual or rapid transformation. Amis & Slack’s (1996) study, which were based on these findings found structure and size to be related.

The bigger the organization grows, the more it becomes centralized, harmonized and specialized, even though a strong presence of volunteers brings in some complicating aspects. These studies found out the part of industrial pressure in the process of change and in the explanation of the evolutionary and revolutionary change.In Australia, Skinner et al. (1999) studied the changed at the Queensland Rugby Union Association employing the Laughlin (1991) model of external jolts as a theoretical framework. They postulated that crises are dominant influencers of change at the strategic level and structural level.

Stewart and Xu (1998), along with the Thibault, Slack, & Hinings (1990) mould, differentiated an array of sporting associations based on the structural aspects and strategic practices. They posited that strategic practices influence structural design, as Slack & Hinings (1989) had found out for Canadian NSO’s. Smith & Stewart (1995) found organizational values to be the fundamental dimension motivating major changes in their investigation of a professional sports club. These studies identified the presence of metamorphosis change in sport organizations. This work comes up from the shortage of studies that explain how elite level sports clubs coaches conceive ‘change.

‘ This paper uses a model consistent with that undertaken by Slack & Hinings (1992) in Canada, in that it aims at establishing an explanation, or a range of explanations, that may be helpful in unravelling the reason sports clubs in Australia may view change as desirable or not. Despite the methodological disparities where Slack & Hinings (1992) employed a number of theoretical viewpoints as the modes for quantitatively testing theories that explain change, and this paper’s qualitative method, both studies implicitly return to the importance of recognizing, and employing more than one viewpoint. Research in sport organizations has presented a number of concrete elements of change management content like the association between structure, strategy, and values, but it remains inadequate in its capacity to illustrate and explain change as the organizations view it. Furthermore, generic study in change management, though immense, has not integrated sport industry practitioners into its results, and potentially to benefit from them. This is an attempt to chip in to filling this gap.