Critically Exploring the Institutional Work in Sport-For-Development: The Case of a Local Programme in Swaziland
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Sport-for-development (SFD) has exponentially increased in practice, research, and policy in recent years – yet, despite this, a need for further research into the complexity of sport and development has been identified (Coalter, 2013a; Sherry et al., 2016). In particular, scholars have argued for critical research adopting a postcolonial lens and new forms of theory and concepts to be applied to studies of SFD (Darnell, 2012; Hayhurst, 2016). In this study, a critical institutional ethnographic case study approach was adopted with a postcolonial perspective to explore the institutional work and social relations of a local Swaziland sport organization (called the Sport Success Centre) implementing SFD programming. The purpose of the study was to explore and discover the role of institutional work that is shaped by and shapes the SFD and sport activities of the Sport Success Centre (SSC). Fieldwork was undertaken from May to August 2016 and involved multiple data collection strategies. The main source of data was through means of participant-observation of the daily work of the SSC. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 5 staff and volunteers. In addition, publicly available and organizational documents totaling 302 were also analyzed. Analysis involved an iterative process moving between the data, reflexive journal memos, and the literature. NVivo qualitative analysis software was used to support the analysis and emergent themes. Findings suggested that organizational actors were involved in a complex of social relations at the SSC that contributed to shaping (and resisting) two forms of institutional work. Additionally, the SSC as an organization was embedded in a neocolonial management style privileging Westernized ideas and white authority structures, as well as perpetuating gender inequalities in the workplace. Although SFD and sport development benefits were discussed, a blurriness between what constituted ‘sport development’ and ‘SFD’ also emerged in SSC practices. Increasing the reliance on local knowledge and working towards an equal gendered structure in the SSC is needed to improve the postcolonialized environment of the organization. Further research is needed in the field of SFD utilizing new theories (such as institutional work or the institutional logics approach) to examine organizations implementing SFD and sport development at the local level and how SFD is inherently underlined by both opportunities to contribute to and hinder social and SFD goals.