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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Policy-makers or policy-takers? : a comparison of Canadian and Swiss sport for development non-governmental organizations Hayhurst, Lyndsay Meredith Catherine


Current sport policies in many developed countries are often dominated by neo-liberal ideologies, encompassing elite-based conceptions of sport focusing on values such as individualism and performance in lieu of participation and community development (Donnelly & Kidd, 2003; Frisby, Reid & Ponic, 2006). Sport for development (SFD) is concerned with, reducing social, economic, and health disparities while focusing on a sport that is available and accessible to all (SDP IWG, 2006). Sport for development non-governmental organizations (SFD NGOs) are trying to change contemporary focuses of sport around the world to encompass these concerns, especially through sport policy influence (Right To Play, 2004b). Recent studies have indicated that influencing policy is one of the major functions of NGO activity (e.g. Betsill & Corell, 2001). This research aimed to reveal key issues pertaining to sport for development theory and policy influence using an interorganizational theory lens. The purpose was to conduct two case studies of how Canadian and Swiss SFD NGOs attempted to place SFD on the policy agendas of their key national sport partners. The specific research questions were: i) What do Swiss and Canadian SFD NGOs see as their key policy imperatives? ii) Who do they see as their key national sport partners? iii) What strategies are SFD NGOs using to promote SFD to these key national sport partners and what is the nature of these partnerships? iv)What role does the presence of the SFD NGOs in the International Platform on Sport and Development Network (IPSDN) play in their ability/inability to place SFD on the policy agendas of these key sport partners? Qualitative research methods were used, including document analysis and interviews, as these data collection strategies were consistent with a case study research approach (Creswell, 1998). A content analysis of websites used to display information about both Swiss and Canadian SFD NGOs and key documents were analysed, including annual reports, mission statements and policy documents. From each of the two SFD NGOs, 4 key staff members (one staff member twice) were interviewed. My findings revealed there is a need for a coherent SFD policy to be developed in both Switzerland and Canada, and more concrete policy procedures are required to guide partnerships between elite-based sport organizations and SFD NGOs. Personal connections between SFD NGOs and their key national sport partners.contributed to the ability of the former to influence the policy agendas of the latter. Competition and collaboration existed within the IPSDN that both enhanced and constrained the ability of SFD NGOs to influence their key national sport partners This study contributed to understandings of: i) how interorganizational theories are useful in drawing attention to the underlying relationships between and amongst SFD NGOs and their partners, and of ii) how these relationships are able to shape and articulate unified or disconnected policy concerns. Future research in this area might examine how partnerships and networks can work more towards enhancing the ability of citizens to influence and contribute to sport policy formation.

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