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Amateur structures and their effect onperformance: the case of Greek voluntarysports clubsDimitra Papadimitriou aa Department of Business Administration , University of PatrasPublished online: 02 Dec 2010.
To cite this article: Dimitra Papadimitriou (2002) Amateur structures and their effect on performance: thecase of Greek voluntary sports clubs, Managing Leisure, 7:4, 205-219, DOI: 10.1080/1360671021000056570
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360671021000056570
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Amateur structures and their effect onperformance: the case of Greek voluntary
sports clubsDimitra Papadimitriou
University of Patras, Department of Business Administration.Correspondence to: Kafhreos 34, Kato Syxaina, Patras 264 43, Greece
This study applies an organizational perspective to the measurement of the structure and context ofvoluntary local sports clubs in Greece. Local sport clubs have rarely been an area of inquiry in termsof their organizational structure and context. This research firstly focuses on collecting andanalysing data referring to measurements of contextual (e.g., organizational size, age and resourcedependence) and structural (e.g., formalization, specialization, centralization) variables. Secondly,it examines whether the local sports clubs contextual and structural development has an effect ontheir performance. The theoretical background underlying this research endeavour is drawn fromthe classical Weberian theory of bureaucracy as presented by Frisbys conceptual framework inorder to be applicable in voluntary leisure service organizations. Forty-one local sport clubscomposed the sample of this study. A member of their board of directors was interviewed following aspecifically designed, highly structured pre-existing schedule. The results support a trend towardsa loosely structured, less bureaucratic organizational operation for the local sport clubs, which isaccompanied with external resource dependence and moderate performance.
In Greece, like in many other Europeancountries, the organization and developmentof amateur sport at the local and nationallevel is undertaken by an expanding networkof voluntary organizations. The role of theGreek national sports organizations is con-fined to the promotion of the sport within thecountry and the attainment of excellenceinternationally. Therefore, as is the case inother countries such as Canada, Germanyand England, in the Greek sports deliverysystem the core agency responsible for thedevelopment of the individual sport isthe local sports club. For the majorityof sport this is a non-profit organization ofvarying size and age. Therefore, the broadspectrum of organizational types range frominformal groups of friends forming organiza-tions with only occasional activity to large
local organizations with extensive member-ships and a variety of sports programmes.Regardless of size, in Greece the majority ofthese organizations depend on public fund-ing in order to secure their required re-sources and deliver programmes in relationto more than one sport. However, resourcesfrom the national sports federations and theprivate sector are likely to strengthenthe annual budget of this type of voluntaryagencies.
The local sports clubs constitute the cellof the Greek sport delivery system andpursue mainly sports-related goals, includingthe promotion of different sports (thoughemphasis is on Olympic sports), the identi-fication and training of talented athletes andthe organization of competitions or othersports-related events. The local sports clubis perceived as a non-profit multi-sport
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organization, which provides sports pro-grammes and services to promising and eliteathletes. The 2004 Olympic games to be heldin Greece, the country that gave birth to thishistorical event, create immense opportun-ities (i.e., new or renovated facilities in afew Greek cities, many promotional events,volunteer development programmes andhigh sport exposure) for the clubs to growand prosper.
Whereas a few research attempts appear inthe sports-related literature to study volun-tary national and provincial sports organiza-tions as formal organizations (Kikulis et al.,1989; Papadimitriou, 1994; Slack and Hinings,1994; Theodoraki, 1996; Thibault et al., 1991),the local sports clubs have rarely been anarea of inquiry in terms of their organiza-tional structure, context or performance. Thevoluntary nature of their operation is gen-erally perceived to be characterized by in-formal relationships, loose structuring andvoluntary membership, all factors whichemphasize the voluntary notion at the ex-pense of the concepts of organization andmanagement. However, as Handy (1990)stresses:
. . . it would be naive to think that anyorganization, even a family, can work wellwithout some way of dividing up the work tobe done, without some understanding ofaccountability to whom for what, and with-out some agreement on the general shape ofthe organization. (p. 103)
In the same line of theorization, Frisby(1985), McPherson (1975), Slack (1985) andTheodoraki and Henry (1993) support theapplication of Weberian theory of bureau-cracy to voluntary sports service organiza-tions on the basis that they tend to exhibitseveral characteristics of typical bureau-cratic structures and processes. Numerouschallenges currently faced by the voluntaryGreek sport clubs justify the need for morerationality in their internal function. Thesechallenges emerge not only from their chang-
ing external environment but also from thenewly passed sport legislation (2725/99,Greek Government, 1999). Examples in-clude:
The pressing need for employing highlyspecialized technical staff and coachesfor the successful implementation of thevarious sports programmes.
The increased resource opportunities inthe clubs external environment and therequirement for specialized ways ofbenefiting from these opportunities.
The various certification programmesintroduced by the national sports gover-ning bodies.
The increasing complexity in bureau-cratic sport systems developed by thestate agency for sport (the GeneralSecretariat for Sports) in order to rewardperformance and excellence in sport.
The accelerated pressure for creatingorganizational structures and systems,which support the high performancesector of the sport concerned.
This research focuses on collecting andanalysing data from voluntary local sportsclubs which refer to the measurements ofcontextual (e.g., organizational size, age andresource dependence), structural (e.g., for-malization, specialization and centralization)and performance variables. This enables asystematic conceptualization of the internalstructure of these organizations. Further-more, the study attempts to explore potentialrelationships among measures of organiza-tional structure, context and performance inlocal sports clubs.
RELEVANT EMPIRICAL RESEARCH INSPORT
The contemporary relevant literature isshort of systematic efforts which analyse thestructures of the voluntary sports clubs. Theonly studies reported have been conductedin larger sports organizations such as provin-cial voluntary sports organizations (Kikulis
et al., 1989; Thibault et al., 1991) and nationalsports governing bodies (Slack, 1985; Theo-doraki, 1996). Specifically, s