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Abstract

This report offers the first landscape understanding of Canadian National Sport Organizations' (NSOs) governance, branding/brand governance, and social media realities in over 30 years.
Canadian National Sport
Organizations’ Governance
Landscape Study
SURVEY
RESULTS
Prof. Milena M. Parent, Ph.D.,
University of Ottawa – Principal Investigator
Prof. Marijke Taks, Ph.D.,
University of Ottawa – Co-investigator
Prof. Michael L. Naraine, Ph.D.,
Deakin University – Co-investigator
Prof. Russell Hoye, Ph.D.,
La Trobe University – Co-investigator
Prof. Benoît Séguin, Ph.D.,
University of Ottawa – Co-investigator
Ms. Ashley Thompson, M.A.,
University of Ottawa – Research assistant
Research Team
PAGE 2
© 2019 Parent, Taks, Naraine, Hoye, Séguin, Thompson
Published: March 11th, 2019
Contact information:
Prof. Milena M. Parent, Ph.D.
University of Ottawa
School of Human Kinetics
125 University Private
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada
+1 (613) 791-1247
milena.parent@uottawa.ca
PAGE 3
MEET THE
RESEARCH TEAM
Prof. Milena M. Parent, Ph.D.
Prof. Parent is a Full Professor in the School of Human Kinetics, Universi-
ty of Ottawa. She is a Research Fellow of the North American Society for
Sport Management and former holder of an Early Researcher Award from
the Government of Ontario and University of Ottawa. Her expertise lies in
the governance of sport systems and events.
Prof. Marijke Taks, Ph.D.
Prof. Taks is a Full Professor in the School of Human Kinetics, University
of Ottawa. Her expertise and research lies in the socio-economic aspects
of sport and leisure.
Prof. Michael L. Naraine, Ph.D.
Prof. Naraine is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Sport Management in
the Department of Management in Deakin Business School. Michael’s
area of expertise lies in social media as well as networks in the sport in-
dustry.
Prof. Russell Hoye, Ph.D.
Prof. Hoye is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Development) and Di-
rector of La Trobe Sport. His expertise and research lies in corporate gov-
ernance, public policy, volunteer management, and the impact of sport on
individuals and society.
Prof. Benoît Séguin, Ph.D.
Prof. Séguin is an Associate Professor in sport management in the
School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa. His research lies in
the marketing of sport events and organizations with a focus on sponsor-
ship, ambush marketing and brand management .
PAGE 4
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
INTRODUCTION
National sport organizations (NSOs) face unprece-
dented governance, economic/marketing, and techno-
logical realities affecting their processes and perfor-
mance, aspects sport system decision and policy makers
understand poorly.
To strengthen their position in society, NSOs must attract
new members, retain existing ones, and increase corpo-
rate and media support. This requires balancing tradi-
tional sport activities and processes with more busi-
ness-based activities, such as managing their brand
and customer experiences, as well as engaging in a
communications and social media strategy, given to-
day’s networked society.
NSOs are also under increased scrutiny from stakehold-
ers regarding their credibility to govern themselves ef-
fectively, to demonstrate appropriate ethical leadership
standards, and to maintain the trust of their members
and stakeholders. How NSOs respond to these govern-
ance challenges will impact their organizations, sports,
individuals, and society.
This report offers the first landscape understanding
of NSOs’ governance, branding, and social media
realities in over 30 years.
To glean this understanding, a survey was sent to all
Sport Canada-funded NSOs (58), resulting in 32 NSOs
(55%) completing the questionnaire. Data were analyzed
for descriptive statistics, as well as stakeholder/social
network analyses to draw out key trends in the NSO
landscape.
KEY TRENDS & RESULTS
NSOs have adopted similar phrases and words to
articulate their missions, visions, and values.
NSOs vary in capacity, ranging in size from no full-
time employees to 58, and annual budgets between
$140,000 and $24 million.
NSO governance structures vary, with board sizes
ranging from four to 15 members, and including be-
tween zero and 71% female board membership.
NSOs operate with five or six committees, and 50% of
NSOs have stakeholders on their Board of Directors
(BoDs).
The majority of NSOs are still dependent on federal
government funding that accounts for, on average,
just under half of annual revenues for NSOs.
The last five years have seen significant changes in
NSO governance, with most moving to formally docu-
ment key governance and business processes, re-
drafting bylaws, and restructuring their boards.
NSOs consider Sport Canada and their members to
be their most relevant stakeholders.
NSOs have become more transparent, publishing
their Annual Reports, bylaws and important policy and
other documents on their websites.
Brand governance and the role of social media in
brand governance were deemed very important by the
NSOs responding to the survey. However, undertak-
ing these tasks well stretched most NSOs’ capacity.
The use of social media was seen to be an effective,
low-cost way to connect with stakeholders and to ex-
ercise some control over their brand. However, NSOs
identified the bilingualism requirement to be a human
and financial resource challenge.
CLOSING REMARKS
With the landscape survey portion of the study complete,
the research team is currently conducting interviews with
NSO boards and senior staff members to understand
these results better (thank you to those who have partici-
pated already).
Following the analysis of the interview data, a workshop
and webinar will be offered in spring 2020, where NSOs
and other sport organizations will be invited to learn
about and help develop best practices related to govern-
ance, brand governance, and social media. We hope to
see you there!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
MEET THE RESEARCH TEAM…………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY..……………………………………………………………………………….………………………….. 4
TABLE OF CONTENT..……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………….. 5
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS..……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………. 6
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ……………………………………………………………………….………………………………... 7
INTRODUCTION ……..……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 8
METHODOLOGY..……………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………... 9
RESULTS SECTION ONE: NSO CAPACITIES AND DEMOGRAPHICS ..………………………………………………….. 10
MISSIONS, VISIONS, AND VALUES..……………………………………………………………………………….…... 10
NSO STRUCTURE ..……………………………………………………………………………….………………………. 12
NSO BUDGETS AND REVENUE SOURCES ..…………………………………………………………………………..13
RESULTS SECTION TWO: GOVERNANCE REALITIES……………………………………………………………………… 14
NSO DECISION-MAKING..……………………………………………………………………………….……………….. 14
GENERAL GOVERNANCE CHANGES..………………………………………………………………………………... 15
NSOS’ STAKEHOLDER ENVIRONMENT..……………………………………………………………………………… 16
GOVERNANCE PRACTICES...…………………………………………………………………………...…….………20
PERFORMANCE..………………………………………………………………………………….……………….. 20
ACCOUNTABILITY..……………………………………………………………………………….………………... 20
TRANSPARENCY..………………………………………………………..……………………….……………….. 21
STAKEHOLDER PARTICIPATION IN DECISION-MAKING………………………………….………………... 21
RESULTS SECTION THREE: BRANDING REALITIES ………………………………………………………………..……... 22
BRAND GOVERNANCE WITHIN NSOS’ OVERALL GOVERNANCE…………...………………….……………….. 22
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BRAND GOVERNANCE & STAKEHOLDERS....…………………….……………….. 23
ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN NSOS’ BRAND GOVERNANCE ....…………………….………………………….…...24
BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA USE ....…………………….…………………………………………………………… 25
SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT......…………………….……………………………………………………………………… 25
SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGES....………………………………………………………………...…….………………... 26
CONCLUSIONS…………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………..……... 27
PAGE 6
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We would like to thank all NSO representatives who took time out of their busy lives to answer the survey. We would
also like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and Sport Canada for
funding this project.
PAGE 7
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
ABBREVIATION FULL NAME
BoDs Board of Directors
CAC Coaching Association of Canada
CAS Court of Arbitration for Sport
CCES Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport
CEO Chief Executive Officer
COC Canadian Olympic Committee
CPC Canadian Paralympic Committee
DG Director General
ED Executive Director
HP Director High Performance Director
IF International Federation
IOC International Olympic Committee
NFP Not-for-profit
NSOs National Sport Organizations
P/TSOs Provincial/Territorial Sport Organizations
SSHRC Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
WADA World Anti-Doping Agency
PAGE 8
National sport organizations (NSOs) are under in-
creased scrutiny from stakeholders regarding their credi-
bility to govern themselves effectively, to demonstrate
appropriate ethical leadership standards, and to maintain
the trust of their members and stakeholders. How NSOs
respond to these governance challenges will impact
their organizations, sports, individuals, and society.
NSOs wish to grow their sport at all levels while man-
aging governance expectations from Sport Canada, a
key funder, and other stakeholders (e.g., sponsors, ath-
letes, and the media). However, human, financial and
material capacity often present limitations.
Though federal funding for sport reached an all-time high
in 2018-2019, investing over $203.3 million CAD,1 the
current economic environment means uncertain times.
As a significant portion of Canadian NSOs’ funding
stems from public sources, NSOs’ ability to stretch tax-
payers' dollars is critical to maximize benefits for all
Canadians, from grassroots to high performance
sport.
To strengthen their position in society, NSOs must at-
tract new members, retain existing ones, and increase
corporate and media support. This requires balancing
traditional sport activities and processes with more
business-based activities, such as managing their
brand and customer experiences, as well as engaging in
a communications and social media strategy, given to-
day’s networked society.
As such, NSOs face unprecedented governance, eco-
nomic/marketing, and technological realities affecting
their processes and performance, aspects sport system
decision and policy makers understand poorly.
This report offers the first landscape understanding
of NSOs’ governance, branding, and social media
realities in over 30 years.
The report is structured as follows. We first briefly pre-
sent the methodology used to gather and analyze the
information on Canadian NSOs’ current governance real-
ities. Second, we describe the results in four sections:
capacity realities/demographics, governance realities,
branding realities, and communications and social media
realities. We conclude the report with a summary of key
trends, recommendations, and next steps.
INTRODUCTION
Governance
Branding Social Media
NSO
Realities
GOVERNANCE CHALLENGES
Manage expectations from
funders and other stakeholders
Increased scrutiny from
stakeholders
Retain existing members and
attract new members
Manage new legal and
technological requirements
1Government of Canada (2018, August 30). Role of Sport Canada. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/
services/role-sport-canada.html
PAGE 9
DATA COLLECTION
In fall 2017, we sent requests to the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)/Executive Directors (EDs)/Directors General (DGs)
and Board Chairpersons of all Sport Canada-funded NSOs to complete the landscape survey. With 32 responses, we
returned to NSOs to ask clarification questions so we could understand certain answers. Twenty-one NSOs responded
to the clarification questions.
METHODOLOGY
2Borgatti, S.P., Everett, M.G., & Johnson, J.C. (2018). Analyzing social networks. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
DATA ANALYSIS
We used the SPSS quantitative data analysis software to
analyse the survey data for descriptive statistics
(frequencies, means/averages, ranges, etc.), which allowed
us to draw out general trends in the data.
Respondents were also asked to describe their stakeholder
interactions, which were analyzed using social network
analysis.2
of respondents
were either a Board
Chairperson or
board member
36%
NSOs had both an
executive and a board
member respond
7
of respondents were
either a CEO, ED,
DG, Operations Man-
ager, or High Perfor-
mance (HP) Director
of respondents also
served in other roles
in their NSO prior to
their current position
of NSOs responded
to the survey
(32 out of 58 NSOs)
55%
was the average tenure of
respondents in their position
5YEARS 64%
64%
SPSS
PAGE 10
1. NSO CAPACITIES AND DEMOGRAPHICS
In this part of the survey, we sought to understand similarities, differences and changes related to:
1.1. MISSIONS, VISIONS, AND VALUES
RESULTS
SECTION ONE
NSO missions, visions,
and values
NSO structures
$
NSO budgets and revenue
sources
NSO
MISSION STATEMENTS
SPORT
NATIONAL
EXCELLENCE
WORLD
ATHLETES
ORGANIZATION
DEVELOPMENT
PROGRAMS
ACHIEVE
MEMBERS
PARTICIPATION
BRAND
SUPPORT
"development," “programs,” “achieve,” “members,”
“participation,” “brand,” and "support."
Less frequent keywords included:
48% noted the word
“excellence”
38% noted the word
“national”
33% noted the words “world,”
“athletes,” and "organization"
Although all NSOs noted the word “sport” in
their mission statements, their focus varied
thereafter:
PAGE 11
RESULTS
SECTION ONE
WORLD
CANADA
PARTICIPATION
SPORT
NATION
CANADIANS
INTERNATIONAL
COMPETITIONS
ATHLETES
COMPETITIVE
EXCELLENCE
PODIUM
TEAMWORK
EXCELLENCE
INTEGRITY
COMMITMENT
ACHIEVE(MENT)
RESPECT
ENVIRONMENT
In terms of vision statements, NSOs appeared
more consistent. All (100%) noted the word
“world” in their vision statements. In addition:
83% noted the words "Canada," "sport,"
"strong," and "participation"
58% noted the words “Canadians,”
“nation,” and “competitive”
50% noted the words “international,”
and “excellence”
42% noted the words “podium,”
“athletes,” and "competitions"
53% noted the word “respect”
40% noted the words “commitment,”
“environment,” “achieve(ment),” and
“teamwork.”
NSO
VISION STATEMENTS
NSO
CORE VALUES
In terms of values, NSOs noted excellence
(100%) and integrity (73%) as core values. In
addition:
PAGE 12
RESULTS
SECTION ONE
1.2. NSO STRUCTURE
Canadian NSO boards are elected by their provincial/territorial sport organizations (P/TSOs) 75% of cases, the rest
being elected by athletes, local clubs, and national interest groups.
We found a range of basic capacity realities between the 32 NSOs who responded to the survey:
Boards had, on average, between five and six committees; and
Stakeholders (e.g., athletes, volunteers, parents, officials, staff, coaches,
local sport organizations, and consultants) had a seat on 50% of NSO
boards and committees.
Boards had between zero and 71% women board members, with an average
of 36% (SD = 17%);
BoDs ranged in size from four to 15 members, with an average of nine
members (SD = 2);
NSOs ranged in size from no full-time employees to 58, with an average of
11 employees (SD = 12);
NSO FTE RANGE
NSO BOD RANGE
PERCENTAGE FEMALE BOD
NUMBER OF COMMITTEES
STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT
PAGE 13
RESULTS
SECTION ONE
1.3. NSO BUDGETS AND REVENUE SOURCES
NSO budgets ranged from $140,000 to $24 million with an average of $4.4M (SD = 6M) and with the following
distribution of revenue sources:
Public: 49%
Commercial: 31%
Membership: 18%
Other: 2%
Sponsorship/
partnerships: 77%
Event/competition
hosting: 23%
Distribution of Revenue Sources (all)3
Distribution of Revenue Sources (commercial)3,4
3Data based on 21 NSOs who completed the clarification questions; 4Broadcasting revenues accounted for less than 1% of the
overall commercial revenue.
PAGE 14
RESULTS
SECTION TWO
2. GOVERNANCE REALITIES
In this part of the survey, we sought to understand NSOs’ current governance realities, as they pertained to:
2.1. NSO Decision-making;
2.2. General changes in NSO governance;
2.3. NSOs’ stakeholder environment; and
2.4. Governance practices.
2.1. NSO DECISION-MAKING
Thanks to the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations (NFP) Act, all NSOs surveyed shifted from having operational
boards to governance boards.
Boards now focus on strategic, long-term decision-making. For 62% of NSOs, the CEO/DG assists in this regard. NSO
boards and their CEOs/DGs also share financial decision-making responsibilities in 95% of NSOs.
However, CEOs/DGs are responsible for sport-related decision (86% of NSOs), marketing-related decision (81% of
NSOs), and most human resource (HR)-related decisions (95% of NSOs). In the latter case, 48% of Boards also make
HR decisions or assist in HR decision-making.
When it comes to communications and social media, decisions are made by CEOs 48% of the time, though most of
these decisions appear to be made by lower-level staff (86% of the time).
DECISIONS BY
BoDs
DECISIONS BY
CEOs/EDs
Strategic, long-term
Financial
Human resource
Sport
Marketing
Communications &
social media
DECISIONS BY
LOWER-LEVEL STAFF
Strategic, long-term
Financial
Human resource
Communications &
social media
PAGE 15
RESULTS
SECTION TWO
2.2. GENERAL GOVERNANCE CHANGES
Over the past five years, NSOs have undergone significant changes in their governance structures, processes, and
activities. These include new hires and bylaws, increased formalization, restructuring, board structure/composition, and
new organizational procedures/systems (i.e., new ways of doing). For example, NSOs now have 66% of their key
governance, HR, sport, marketing, and communications-related policy documents formalized (i.e., written down).
2.2.1. MOST IMPORTANT
NSOs believed Sport Canada, their participants (e.g.,
athletes, officials, and coaches), and the NFP Act were
the most important stakeholders and issues when
thinking about governance (measured on a five-point
Likert scale, 1=not important to 5= critically important).
2.2.2. STAKEHOLDER MANAGEMENT
NSOs believed managing stakeholders is more difficult
today and stakeholders have increased their demands
on NSOs (each question was measured on a five-point
Likert scale, 1=not at all to 5= always; 1=not at all to
5=very high increase).
New Hires Board bylaws Formalization
97%
Restructuring
Stakeholder
demands
increasing
over time
Stakeholder
management is
more difficult
M=3.30,
SD=1.02
M=3.55,
SD=0.81
Sport Canada
M = 4.56, SD = 0.67
Participants
M = 4.44, SD = 0.76
NFP Act
M = 4.19, SD = 0.76
Board structure/
composition
New organizational
procedures/systems
94% 88%
78% 66% 56%
PAGE 16
2.3. NSOs’ STAKEHOLDER ENVIRONMENT
When examining NSOs’ external relationships, similarities were found in NSOs’ stakeholder environment.
RESULTS
SECTION TWO
100%
of NSOs surveyed noted the federal government, athletes,
coaches, officials, their international federation (IF), and the Coaching
Association of Canada (CAC) as stakeholders;
91-97%
of NSOs surveyed noted paid staff, volunteers, P/TSOs,
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES), national sponsors,
social media, and the Sport Law & Strategy Group as stakeholders;
of NSOs surveyed noted athletes’ entourage, the
written press, consultants, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), and
other NSOs/multi-sport organizations as stakeholders;
81-87%
of NSOs surveyed noted Own the Podium, fans,
provincial government, local sponsors, and their continental federation
as stakeholders;
72-78%
of NSOs surveyed noted TV/broadcasting, Court of
Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and ParticipACTION, radio stations and
local sport organizations; and
66-69%
of NSOs surveyed noted Canadian Paralympic
Committee (CPC), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Active for Life,
municipal governments, local businesses, distributors, International
Olympic Committee (IOC), residents, community groups, and other IFs.
50-59%
PAGE 17
RESULTS
SECTION TWO
Only a select few stakeholders were identified as critical for survival (primary) stakeholders for NSOs:
Respondents also indicated whether their interactions with stakeholders were of a formal or informal nature. NSOs
overwhelmingly noted their relationships with the federal government, athletes, and coaches. Informal interactions were
the highest with media stakeholders, specifically print and social media.
100%: Federal government; athletes; coaches;
officials
NSO
91-97%: Paid staff; P/TSOs; volunteers
75-78%: CAC; IFs
56-66%: Own the Podium; CCES; digital/social media;
national sponsors; COC; continental federations
Formal and Informal Interactions by Stakeholder (>70%)
PAGE 18
RESULTS
SECTION TWO
On average, NSOs use written communications to interact (e.g., e-mails, postal letters), with 55% of the sample (on av-
erage) indicating this preference across all stakeholders. Digital/social media was not the least utilized medium to inter-
act with stakeholders; the medium used the least to interact across NSOs was tele/video-conferencing.
The use of face-to-face and
written forms of communica-
tion seem to be very prevalent
across primary stakeholders.
Interestingly, the use of social
media for interactions was
highest with the athletes, vol-
unteers, and P/TSO stakehold-
er groups.
Selected Average Types of Stakeholder Interactions
Types of Communications
PAGE 19
Finally, NSOs reported the average frequency of interaction with their stakeholders. Interactions were funneled into
three major frequency periods: infrequent, at least once a month, and at least once a week.
The two stakeholders which NSOs reported, on average, to have the most frequent interactions with were paid staff
and social media users. Coaches and athletes also emerged as stakeholders with whom interactions occurred at least
once weekly. Concurrently, NSOs are speaking with other stakeholders like the COC and their organization’s suppliers
on a monthly basis for updates. Stakeholders with whom there was infrequent interaction were the Television and
Government stakeholder groups, the latter specifically referring to Provincial and Municipal bodies.
RESULTS
SECTION TWO
Selected Average Frequency of Stakeholder Interactions (%)
PAGE 20
RESULTS
SECTION TWO
2.4. GOVERNANCE PRACTICES
We examined four key areas of governance: performance, accountability, transparency, and stakeholder participation in
decision-making.
2.4.1. PERFORMANCE
Regarding how NSOs measure organizational performance, little consensus could be found, save for the idea of meeting
organizational objectives (75% of NSOs):
2.4.2. ACCOUNTABILITY
When examining accountability, 78% of NSOs agreed there were differences between board accountability and staff
accountability. Moreover, NSOs indicated different facets of accountability were important externally versus internally:
External accountability Internal accountability
Legally: formal laws, and rules (97%) Administrative: degree of org transparency (94%)
Performance: athlete performance (91%) Administrative: timely dissemination of information (91%)
Performance: reaching organizational goals (88%) Performance: reaching organizational goals (91%)
Financially: reports to funders (88%) Financially: use of financial resources (91%)
Financially: use of financial resources (84%) Legally: formal laws, and rules (84%)
Personal/Professional: decision-making fairness (84%)
PAGE 21
RESULTS
SECTION TWO
2.4.3. TRANSPARENCY
NSOs seemed to agree on how they should go about being transparent:
2.4.4. STAKEHOLDER PARTICIPATION IN DECISION-MAKING
NSOs are including their stakeholders in their decision-making processes, as members of the board (50% of boards
have stakeholders on them) or as part of their strategic planning or branding processes (measured on a five -point Likert
scale, 1=not at all to 5= always):
Having organizational
bylaws
Publishing key documents on
the website for all to see
Reports at Annual
General Meetings
100% 97% 97%
Stakeholder
Participation in
Governance
50% of Boards have stakeholder
representation
Stakeholders are involved in NSO
branding processes (M=3.27, SD=0.98)
Stakeholders are involved in NSO strategic
planning processes (M=3.40. SD=1.33)
86%
of NSOs agreed with the statement
that NSOs are increasingly similar
in their governance.
PAGE 22
RESULTS
SECTION THREE
91%
3. BRANDING REALITIES
In this part of the survey, we sought to understand:
3.1. Brand governance within NSOs’ overall governance;
3.2. The importance of brand governance in the relationship between NSOs and their stakeholders; and
3.3. The role of social media in NSOs’ brand governance;
3.4. The benefits of social media use
3.5. Social media Content
3.6. Social media challenges
3.1. BRAND GOVERNANCE WITHIN NSOs’ OVERALL GOVERNANCE
Respondents indicated branding/brand is often an important issue for NSOs (measured on a five-point Likert scale,
1=not at all to 5= always). Furthermore, 91% of NSOs agreed their brand was in line with their vision, mission, and val-
ues. However, only 56% of NSOs indicated they had previously conducted research on their brand, and 40% indicated
they possessed an official brand document. Finally, 52% of NSOs surveyed have developed brand policies/regulations/
guidelines.
NSOs indicated brand management-related decisions were made primarily by the CEO/ED (53%), followed by the BoD
(34%), and the marketing team (3%). NSOs also indicated brand management decisions were made by the HP Director,
committees, as well as a combination between the CEO/ED and the marketing team.
4.09
(SD=0.89) 56% 40% 52%
Brand
importance
Brand
alignment
Brand
research
Brand
document
Brand
policies/regulations
53% 34% 3% 9%
CEO/ED Board of Directors Marketing Team Other: HP Director,
committees, CEO/ED
and marketing team
PAGE 23
NSOs indicated brand strategy was discussed more internally (i.e., with the BoDs and committees) than externally, and
their image and reputation is considered when making operational decisions.
3.2. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BRAND GOVERNANCE & STAKEHOLDERS
RESULTS
SECTION THREE
97% 55%
Discussed
internally
Discussed
externally
3.81
(SD=1.18)
Image/reputation
considered when
making operational
decisions
NSOs also indicated stakeholders sometimes
influenced the management of their brand
NSOs agreed that stakeholder communications
fits with their mission, vision, and values
3.91(SD=0.96)
However, NSOs indicated stakeholders
were not as involved in the management
of their brand
of NSOs agreed that they communicate
differently with different stakeholders
97%
2.44 (SD=0.88) 3.13 (SD=0.91)
NSO Communication Stakeholder
NSO Communication Stakeholder
PAGE 24
RESULTS
SECTION THREE
3.3. ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN NSOs’ BRAND GOVERNANCE
The majority of respondents indicated social media was an important issue for NSOs and that social media was used to
communicate their mission, vision, values, and goals. NSOs also agreed social media communication impacted their
organization’s brand (each question measured on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1=not at all to 5= always).
4.66
(SD=0.48)
NSO
NSO
Social
media
Social
media
Communicate mission, vision, values, and goals
Social media impact on brand
3.53
(SD=1.02)
3.84
(SD=1.02)
Social media is an important issue
PAGE 25
RESULTS
SECTION THREE
3.4. BENEFITS OF SOCIAL MEDIA USE
The three major themes emerging from the benefits of social media were connectivity, control, and effectiveness of the
medium. Respondents noted social media enabled their brand to connect with multiple stakeholders simultaneously with
different platforms, using existing guidelines for communication and brand management, in a highly engaging manner.
Several organizations identified social media as a low-cost option relative to other communication mediums.
3.5. SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT
Regarding the top content produced on their social media platforms, respondents indicated five major themes: the pro-
motion of 1) upcoming competitions, 2) live updates, 3) scores, 4) sponsor activations; and 5) athlete training (i.e., action
shots).
Promoting upcoming competitions was the most often selected type of content, with 87% of respondents selecting this
theme in their Top 5. Live updates were in 69% of Top 5s, while scores were in 68%. Finally, athlete training and action
shots were selected in 64% of respondent Top 5s, and sponsor activations just over half the time (56% of Top 5s).
Encouraging other NSOs (e.g., celebrating a successful result of another sport via social media) were not ranked in the
Top 5 by 84% of respondents, and only appeared as the fourth and fifth choices for top social media content by a hand-
ful of brands (n = 9, n = 6).
Connectivity
Wide reach
Flexible
Always connected
Control
Existing brand guidelines
Issues management
Preventing ambush marketing
Effective
Access to new networks
Quick, low cost
Interactive, highly engaging
Top Social Media Content
PAGE 26
RESULTS
SECTION THREE
3.6. SOCIAL MEDIA CHALLENGES
The most common challenge with operating and maintaining a social media presence cited was the lack of human re-
sources, with this element being ranked as a Top 5 choice by 89% of respondents. Financial resources and spending
constraints were the second most cited challenge with 72% of respondents ranking it in their Top 5.
Bilingualism, an often cited issue with communication in Canada,5 was ranked by 53% of respondents, as was the chal-
lenge of dealing with new, emerging social media platforms. The potential for social media users to hijack and distort
content appeared as the fifth highest ranked choice with 46% of respondents putting it in their Top 5.
Further, “digital deficiencies” (e.g., poor content and multimedia skills) only appeared in 28% of the sample’s Top 5, but
was the second highest third choice option for respondents (alongside bilingualism).
Roughly a quarter of respondents identified and ranked professionalism on social media as a Top 5 challenge. Lastly,
the sample did not find independent athlete brands and accounts, or pressures from sponsors or Sport Canada, to have
a significant bearing on their social media difficulties.
Top 5 Social Media Challenges
5Naraine, M. L., & Parent, M. M. (2017). This is how we do it: A qualitative approach to national sport organizations' social-media
implementation. International Journal of Sport Communication, 10, 196-217. doi:10.1123/IJSC.2017-0006
PAGE 27
CONCLUSIONS
KEY TRENDS
NSOs have adopted similar phrases and words to articulate their missions, visions and values.
NSOs vary in capacity, ranging in size from zero full-time employees to 58, and annual budgets between $140,000
to $24 million.
NSO governance structures vary, with board sizes ranging from four to 15 members, and including between zero
and 71% female board membership.
NSOs operate with five or six key committees, and 50% of NSOs have stakeholders on their boards.
The majority of NSOs are still dependent on federal government funding that accounts for, on average, just under
half of annual revenues for NSOs.
The last five years have seen significant changes in NSO governance, with most moving to formally document key
governance and business processes, redrafting bylaws and restructuring their boards.
NSOs consider Sport Canada and their members to be their most relevant stakeholders.
NSOs have become more transparent, publishing their Annual Reports, bylaws and important policy and other
documents on their websites.
Brand governance and the role of social media in brand governance were deemed very important by the NSOs
responding to the survey. However, undertaking these tasks well stretched the capacity of most NSOs.
The use of social media was seen to be an effective, low-cost way to connect with stakeholders and to exercise
some control over their brand. However, NSOs identified the bilingualism requirement to be a human and financial
resource challenge.
NEXT STEPS
With the landscape survey portion of the study complete, the research team is currently conducting interviews with NSO
boards and senior staff members to understand these results better (thank you to those who have participated already).
Following the analysis of the interview data, a workshop and webinar will be offered in spring 2020, where NSOs and
other sport organizations will be invited to learn about and help develop best practices related to governance, brand gov-
ernance and social media. We hope to see you there!
... This is problematic as not all sport organizations publish everything on their website, so it skews findings in favour of organizations that are more externally transparent (versus internal transparency to members, for instance; cf. Parent et al., 2019;Pielke et al., 2019). This also limits our understanding of how governance principles are implemented 'behind closed doors'. ...
Article
Full-text available
Research question Given the plethora of governance principles proposed by academics, government agencies, and sport governing bodies, this study systematically reviewed the current landscape of governance principles in sport. Research methods Following the PRISMA, PIECES, and the University of Warwick protocols, a search of academic and grey literatures resulted in 594 unique records. After screening the records for relevance and quality, 73 records (12%) remained. Results and findings Most sources were non-empirical, originating from academic working groups and sport governing bodies located predominantly in Europe. Overall, 258 unique governance principles were found. Transparency, accountability, and democracy dominated frequency-wise, while Board-related principles were the most popular focus, followed by stakeholder engagement. The list of principles was synthesized through an inductive thematic analysis into four categories: structure-based, process-based, outcome-based, and context-based. Empirical studies demonstrated governance principles’ assessments in national and international sport organizations to be average at best. Implications Findings highlight the systemic and multi-dimensional nature of governance. The four governance principles categories point to academics and practitioners seeing/enacting governance in different ways: structurally at different levels of the organization (i.e. including and beyond the Board), in the organization’s managerial processes, as desired organizational outcomes, and according to their specific context. Researchers and practitioners should endeavour to be purposeful in their use of terms (e.g. ‘principle’ vs ‘indicator’), define their terms, and offer greater details to present higher quality assessment outcomes. We encourage researchers to use more robust, evidence-based governance principles and sophisticated measures/advanced analyses in future assessments of governance.
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