UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A stakeholder approach to understanding the role of the Olympic Games in social development Chauhan, Paramjot Singh


Critics of the Olympic Games argue that rather than promoting the cherished values of Olympism, the Games have primarily been used as a means to leverage public funds to satisfy the economic interests of the elite, while typically returning to the community overdebtness of hosting the event, unusable post event facilities and negative impacts to accommodations and its resident’s standard of living (Andranovich, Burbank & Heying, 2001; Haxton, 1999; Hall, 2006; Hiller, 1990, Horne & Manzenreiter, 2006; Lenskyj 2003; Macintosh and Whitson, 1993). For Vancouver, host city of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, to overcome such criticisms the organizing committee must work with its stakeholders, those with a stake rather than stock in the Games, to ensure that social development benefits are maximized and negative impacts are mitigated. The city’s downtown eastside (DTES) has been singled out as the first area of focus by both the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) and the Vancouver Agreement (VA), a public collaboration aimed at addressing the social issues that plague the area including business decline, unemployment, poverty, crime, and drug use (Ference & Weicker, 2002; Pivot, 2006; Vancouver Agreement, 2006). The 2010 Winter Games Inner-City Inclusive Commitment Statement (ICICS), adopted by VANOC and the VA, outlines the goal for an inclusive and socio–economic responsible Games. Understanding how each organization aims to use these Olympic Games to address the social development issues in the DTES was the primary focus of this study. Using stakeholder theory, the specific research questions included: 1) How do the focal organization (VA) and the stakeholders (VANOC) define the social development issue(s) underpinning their involvement in the ICICS? 2) How does VANOC see its role/interests in the VA and how does this compare with the VA’s view of VANOC’s role? 3) What factors are facilitating or constraining the sustainability of the relationship between the VA and VANOC? 4) What outcomes do the VA and VANOC hope to accomplish and how will these be assessed? This case study from September 2005 to February 2006, used multiple qualitative research methods including document analysis of organizational reports, policies and media releases and purposive sampling to conduct 8 ‘elite’ face to face interviews with administrators from VANOC, the 2010 Legacies Now Society, a non-profit society that works with community partners to develop social and economic opportunities surrounding the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and those involved at the VA. The study revealed the primary goal between these three organizations is to use determine how to effectively use these Olympic Games as a catalyst to address the social issues affecting the DTES. While acknowledging that these social issues will by no means be fully addressed by the time the Games are hosted, they continue to focus on building their relationships and within the community in order to accelerate this social agenda. Factors found to facilitating their own relationship and with the community include: inter organizational dynamics, the Olympic Games sectoral tables, and VANOC’s Board of Directors. While administrators also identified factors constraining the relationship to include: managing working relationships with the community, government politics, and inter organizational challenges.

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