Corporate social responsibility through sport: a longitudinal study of the FTSE100 companies

Tom Bason, C. Anagnostopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
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– Under growing public scrutiny of their behaviour, the vast majority of multinational enterprises (MNEs) have been undertaking significant investments through corporate social responsibility (CSR) in order to close legitimacy gaps. The purpose of this paper is to provide a descriptive account of the nature and scope of MNEs’ CSR programmes that have sport at their core. More specifically, the present study addresses the following questions. First, how do Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 firms utilise sport as part of their CSR agendas? Second, how do different industries have different approaches to CSR through sport? And third, can the types of CSR through sport be classified? Design/methodology/approach – Centred on legitimacy theory and exploratory in nature, the study employed a content analysis method, and examined three types of document from each of the FTSE100 firms, namely, annual reports, annual reviews and CSR reports over the ten-year period from 2003 to 2012. In total, 1,473 documents were content analysed, thereby offering a sound representation of CSR disclosure of the FTSE100. Findings – From the analysis, three main streams emerged: “Philanthropy”, “Sponsorships” and “Personnel engagement” with the first showing the smallest growth compared with the other main streams. Findings show the general rise in CSR through sport, thereby demonstrating that the corporate world has practically acknowledged that the sporting context is a powerful vehicle for the employment of CSR. Originality/value – Previous empirical studies have sought to investigate CSR through sport, yet they have generally suffered from sampling limitations which have, in turn, rendered the drawing of reliable conclusions problematic. Particularly, the lack of an explicit focus on longitudinality is a typical limitation, meaning that no conclusions can be made regarding the trend. The study outlined in this paper offers the most comprehensive longitudinal study of CSR through sport to date, and thus contributes to the increasing volume of literature that examines the application of CSR in relation to the sport sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-241
JournalSport, Business and Management: An International Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

This article is © Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here: Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • CSR
  • Sport
  • MNEs
  • Legitimacy theory
  • Philanthropy
  • Longitudinal content analysis


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