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Understanding the Changing Nature of Sports Organisations in Transforming Societies


  • Girginov, Vassil
  • Sandanski, Ivan


The paper examined the process of changing in three Bulgarian national sport organisations (NSO) in swimming, weightlifting and field hockey, as the country is undergoing fundamental political, economic and social transformations from state socialism (1945-1989) to democratisation (1990-present). Drawing on the contextualist approach to organisational change (Pettigrew, 1985) the study was concerned with understanding long-term processes in their context. Analysed were NSOs' conceptual orientation, structures, resources, capabilities and outcomes. Changing was unveiled through the interplay between three levels of analysis - wider political and economic, sport sector, and organisation-specific. The history of changing unfolded over a 25 years period and followed three stages of crisis of governability (1980-1989), crisis displacement (1989-1997) and identity search (1998-2004). Changing was determined by tensions generated in the previous socialist sport system, the new forces in the NSOs' context, and by managers' interpretation of events, and was a discovery process. The three NSOs followed different change patterns of shrinking, insulation and expansion. Two key reasons were responsible for those differences - the institualisation of the broader political and sport sector contexts, and NSOs' choice to pursue narrow elitism (specialism) or the broader aims of sports development (generalism). The contextualist approach allowed us to appreciate the historical, contextual and processual nature of changing and to discuss the role of managers and various forces in shaping its course and outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Girginov, Vassil & Sandanski, Ivan, 2008. "Understanding the Changing Nature of Sports Organisations in Transforming Societies," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 21-50, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:spomar:v:11:y:2008:i:1:p:21-50

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Skinner, James & Stewart, Bob & Edwards, Allan, 1999. "Amateurism to Professionalism: Modelling Organisational Change in Sporting Organisations," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 173-192, November.
    2. Katchanovski, Ivan, 2000. "Divergence in Growth in Post-Communist Countries," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(01), pages 55-81, April.
    3. O'Brien, Danny & Slack, Trevor, 1999. "Deinstitutionalising the Amateur Ethic: An Empirical Examination of Change in a Rugby Union Football Club," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 24-42, May.
    4. Bernhard Seliger, 2002. "Toward a More General Theory of Transformation," Eastern European Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(1), pages 36-62, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:spomar:v:20:y:2017:i:5:p:522-534 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Edwards, Michael B., 2015. "The role of sport in community capacity building: An examination of sport for development research and practice," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 6-19.
    3. Skirstad, Berit, 2009. "Gender policy and organizational change: A contextual approach," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 202-216, November.


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