There has recently been a marked increase in the number of reported cases of corruption in international sport. As such, a growing number of sponsors have taken remedial action in order to protect the reputation of their brand. This study has been designed to analyse how sponsors respond to the threat of corruption in sport and to identify the contextual factors that influence such a response. Maennig (2005) identified two forms of corruption –‘management corruption’ and ‘competition corruption’. It is the latter, defined by Gorse & Chadwick (2010) as “any illegal, immoral or unethical activity that attempts to deliberately distort the outcome of a sporting contest (or an element within the contest) for the personal material gain of one or more parties involved in the activity” that provides a focus and context for this study and includes such behaviour as doping, tanking, match fixing and spot fixing.
In order to identify how sponsors respond both to the threat of being associated with a property affected by this type of behaviour, also referred to as sporting transgression in this study, and to analyse instances of actual corruption, a four-stage research methodology has been employed. A database of cases of sporting transgression was created to provide contextual background and further rationale for the focus of this study; a series of preliminary interviews were conducted with professionals in and around the sponsorship industry to highlight the potential implications of corruption for sponsors; and a number of case studies were developed, recognising the key stakeholders in sponsorship management. A series of in-depth semi-structured interviews were then conducted with multiple stakeholders in the sport industry -sponsors, legal professionals with expertise in sponsorship and commercial managers in governing bodies of sport. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and then analysed using grounded theory coding techniques, allowing for key themes to emerge and responses to corruption in sport discussed. Analysis of the interview data indicates that sponsors adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach when dealing with the potential impact of corruption, relying on a number of factors to decide upon remedial courses of action. These factors have been conceptualised and a Sponsor Response to Sporting Transgression, or SRST, Model is proposed.
|Date of Award
|Simon Chadwick (Supervisor)