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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Managing relationships and developing sustainability : the case of VANOC and the Vancouver 2010 national partners Yang, Xinquan


The purpose of this study was to investigate how corporate sponsorship might contribute to Olympic sustainability, including economic, environmental and social sustainability. The research focused on the partnership management strategies of VANOC (the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Organizing Committee) and the six national Vancouver 2010 corporate partners, with an emphasis on the role of social responsibility imperatives in shaping corporate investments in the sustainability of the Vancouver 2010 Games. The research followed an interpretive approach. My research focused on how decision-makers endeavored to reduce the potentially negative impacts and to enhance the benefits of the Vancouver 2010 Games. The research followed a case study approach focusing on the key relationships formed in the sustainability area. Data collection included document analysis (128 documents) and semi-structured interviews with 26 key informants identified by VANOC and the corporate partners. The results of the study show that VANOC was the first OCOG to fully integrate sustainability into its vision statement and to apply sustainability principles in all aspects of Games’ planning, operations and delivery. These measures were a direct response to the Vancouver 2010 bid commitments, as well as a response to the IOC’s (International Olympic Committee’s) adoption of sustainability, along with sport and culture, as a central element of the philosophy of the Olympic Movement. Although the motivations for corporations to enter Olympic sponsorship were typically not for sustainability objectives as such, they considered sustainability a key component in forming the Olympic partnership. Sponsorship activation on sustainability for the corporate partners was aided through the 2010 Sponsor Sustainability Initiative and 2010 Legacies Now. For the most part, the corporate partners were very satisfied with their role in contributing to the sustainability of the Games and with VANOC’s management strategies. Nevertheless, a few areas of tension were identified. One was that VANOC did not have an activation budget for promoting the sustainability program and the contributions of the partners to the sustainability of the Games. The other key point of tension occurred when VANOC sought assistance in areas that were outside of their corporate expertise or core business interest.

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