Structures beyond the frameworks of the rink : On organization in Swedish ice hockey

Sammanfattning: This is a dissertation on organization in Swedish ice hockey based on four articles. The purpose of the thesis is to contribute knowledge on the direction, management and practice of sport using Swedish elite ice hockey as an example. Knowledge is created by examining four separate but mutually contingent aspects of organizations. Article I contributes to the overall purpose with knowledge on the professionalization of Swedish ice hockey, the reasons behind and the consequences of it. Focusing on the timeframe 1967-2000 the article highlights how norms, values and ideals changed over time and contributed to a change from ice hockey as an amateur sport based on idealistic motives and volunteer efforts to a professional sport based on entertainment and commercial forces. Article II contributes knowledge on the structural organization of Swedish elite ice hockey clubs and contributing factors. The article compares eleven elite ice hockey clubs and shows how they vary in relation to each other from low to high specialization, standardization and centralization but also how they present many similar characteristics such as organizational form, subsidiary businesses, cooperation with farm clubs and upper secondary schools, types of employments and division of workload. Article III contributes with knowledge on how organizational structures are experienced by individuals working or volunteering in the clubs. Comparing experiences in two structurally different clubs, the article shows how more developed structures are experienced more positively than less developed structures are. However, both groups agree that more developed structures are desirable and they also have similar opinions on issues concerning formal education and training, the elite program vs. the youth program, strategic vs. operative tasks and personal freedom. Article IV contributes knowledge on how experiences of mentioned structures are affected by remuneration, authority and centrality. Exploring four positions differing from each other with regard to hierarchical position, distance to the club’s core activities and payment, the article shows that individual experiences of organizational structure vary depending on where in the club the individual works. This variation is shown to result in tensions between the different positions. The knowledge offered in the thesis is based on three data collections. Data have been gathered from official and unofficial documentation from and on the Swedish sports confederation, the Swedish ice hockey association and 11 clubs represented in the highest division 2000/2001, and from individuals working or volunteering in these clubs as board members, general managers, marketing assistants, coaches, volunteers in the youth programs and arena personnel. The studies are carried out within an institutional theory framework and the analysis of the results taken together shows how the structures in elite ice hockey clubs are affected by surrounding environment and societal environments. Norms and ideals concerning legitimate ways of organizing are mediated by authorities, educational establishments, trade organizations and successful models in neighbouring industries. These norms and ideals have changed as new actors such as television networks, commercial sponsors and employed staff have entered ice hockey and as the roles of the government, the associations, the coaches and the players have changed. These ongoing changes are combining to a new context and new circumstances for the direction, management and practice of Swedish ice hockey.