Exploring Organisational Culture Within the Context of a Community Sports Organisation

Ross, Karyne
Naylor, Michael
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

Culture is an intangible concept, known but unseen. It is inherently linked to the success of an organisation. Organisational culture is increasingly a focus for sport management practitioners and academics, yet little research has been conducted to understand this ambiguous and complex concept. Even less research on culture has been undertaken within the not-for-profit community sports organisational context specifically. This study addresses this glaring gap in the literature. The dissertation is an investigation of organisational culture within a community sports organisation – Netball Waitakere. The aims were to understand how culture is perceived and experienced by members of the organisation, ascertain if culture changed over time, and explore whether culture was perceived differently by sub-groups that may exist within the organisation. The study was undertaken adopting a qualitative approach to unearth as yet unknown insights of this complex concept. A qualitative approach was adopted as little was known about the subject being investigated. Qualitative research methodology encourages the revelation of rich narratives and provides insights from the social constructions of the study subjects. Focus groups provided the platform for the purposive sample of Centre members to engage in a guided discussion to uncover their personal beliefs and feelings about culture. Several dimensions of culture emerged that were distinctly present among the membership of the Netball Centre. Most prominent was a very strong sense of community. Three other themes that emerged were performance and winning, place attachment and divergent perceptions that related to possible sub-cultures, and lack of synergy. The findings of this research are of value to the sport sector, as the importance of awareness and understanding of culture and application to real world settings have been emphasised. Given the vast number of community sports organisations and their important role facilitating sport participation in the community, research unearthing organisational culture is of vital importance. The research also adds value to the body of literature on management of community sports organisations. Findings from this research may influence sports managers in their approach to running organisations and managing the people involved in them. For sport management scholars, this research contributes to an evolving understanding of sport organisational culture.

Organisation culture , Community sports , Sport management , Sense of community
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