Changing Practice in High Performance Sports Organisations in Relation to External Stakeholders



Introduction

The extensive array of external stakeholders that interact with HPSOs and retain a vested interest in how they engage with their specific ecosystems, include sponsorship partners, broadcast and media, existing customers, potential customers, fans, sports governing bodies, professional unions, league administrators, government authorities, service providers, geographical neighbours and lobby groups (Brand Finance, 2019; Clarkson, 1995; Friedman & Miles, 2002). It is important to explore how these entities may influence the evolution of an HPSO and shape the changes such organisations undertake, in order to achieve sustained success in the various verticals identified in the previous chapter.

The expansive nature of operations observed in HPSOs requires the leaders within the organisation to continually consider the relationship between the various interactive components of each vertical, in an environment that exhibits continuous volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (Millar et al., 2018). Such management involves the ongoing measurement, assessment and evaluation of each variable, with subsequent change and innovations being managed concurrently, incorporating a cognisance as to how these relate to such stakeholders (Cruickshank & Collins, 2012).

Measuring the Impact of HPSOs in Their Communities

Many external stakeholders, including fans, existing customers, potential customers, service providers, sponsorship partners and geographical neighbours form the core of the local, national and global communities with whom HPSOs must develop a symbiotic interdependency. Subsequently, understanding how such organisations can develop strong positive relationships with their communities, is critical for those within front office positions when seeking to achieve sustained success (Sheth & Babiak, 2010).

Many professional sports organisations invest in corporate social responsibility schemes (CSR), aimed at giving back resources to groups, individuals and causes needing support within their communities. Such organisations capitalise on several factors unique to sport, that positively affect the nature and scope of CSR efforts, including mass media distribution, communication reach, youth appeal, positive health associations, social interaction, sustainability awareness, financial investment, stakeholder relations and a passionate fanbase(Babiak & Wolfe, 2009; Smith & Westerbeek, 2007). CSR schemes such as Football in the Community, launched in England in 1986, can take the form of community sports programs, education programs, charity partnerships and fund raising activities, initiated to positively influence social issues including health, social inclusion, social regeneration and access to sport (Cope & Parnell, 2015; Krustrup & Parnell, 2019; Parnell et al., 2013).

CSR vs Total Societal Impact

The literature suggests, however, that whilst traditional CSR models in sport have both altruistic and strategic motives in employing philanthropy-related practices to ameliorate or enhance their brand image (Gan, 2006), organisations often view shareholder value and corporate health as unrelated to societal impact. This places such programmes at risk during times of financial struggle (Beal et al., 2017). Consequently, this disconnect might contribute to the inadequate guidance for which some programs have previously received criticism and also explain why evaluation processes have not been adequately monitored and modified to sufficiently address the complexity and outcomes of the interventions (Tacon, 2007; Widdop et al., 2018).


Outside of sport, consensus is building in the corporate community, that businesses must consider the impact they have on society, in addition to delivering total shareholder return (TSR). Total societal impact (TSI) is the term used to describe a collection of measures and assessments that capture the economic, social and environmental impact of a company’s products, services, operations, core capabilities and activities (Beal et al., 2017). There is a recognition that in including this TSI perspective in strategic planning, organisations are driven to leverage their core business to contribute to society. Subsequently, this pursuit of social impact is actually integral to the strategy and value creation of the company, thus positively impacting the TSR over the long term in a way that CSR does not(Dahlstrom & Goland, 2018; Eccles, 2017).

The Benefits of Incorporating TSI into Corporate Strategy

Management consultants, Boston Consulting Group (BCG), demonstrated a significant positive relationship between a company’s financial performance and non-financial performance, including environmental, social and governance issues, relevant to its sector and strategy (Beal et al., 2017). Whilst the research did not include sports organisations, the group examined the relationship between financial and non-financial performance in retail and business banking, oil and gas, biopharmaceuticals, and consumer packaged goods. In each sector, the top-ranking businesses for combined performance, had higher valuation multiples than median performers and achieved higher margins (Beal et al., 2017).

In industries outside of sport, strategic plans that incorporate TSI initiatives have been shown to open up new markets, drive innovation, reduce cost and risk in supply chains, strengthen brands and support premium pricing, gain advantages in attracting and retaining talent and become an integral part of the economic and social fabric (Mennel & Wong, 2015; Winograd & Hais, 2014; Young et al., 2019).

TSI-focused companies have also been shown to grow and thrive over the long term, and thus, it could be suggested that similar approaches adopted by HPSOs, might contribute to teams achieving sustained success and staying relevant in the face of evolving societal trends (Dahlstrom & Goland, 2018; Reeves & Püschel, 2015). Furthermore, given the increasing pressure that stakeholders are placing on HPSOs to play a more active role in addressing social and environmental issues, incorporating TSI strategies could explore opportunities between a team and its employees, fans, sponsors and investors (Beal et al., 2017; Dahlstrom & Goland, 2018; Eccles, 2017; Tsordia et al., 2018)

Business Frameworks That Incorporate TSI into Company Strategy

As advantages of incorporating TSI into overall business development strategies are more widely recognised, demand has turned to third party organisations or governments to award recognition for companies investing in TSI, whilst providing advice, guidance and support for those working to improve their performance in this area (Dahlstrom & Goland, 2018). Dependant on the geographical and regulatory context, there are several options for these social business “hybrids” to adopt, in order to use primarily commercial means to create value for society, while developing operations that are financially sustainable and leverage commercial contracts, to enable business growth (Santos et al., 2015).

B Corporation

B Corporation certification is a private certification issued by the non-profit organisation, B Lab, to for-profit companies around the world. Candidates must achieve a minimum score on an online social and environmental performance assessment and integrate commitments to stakeholders into aspects of corporate governance (B Lab, 2018).

The certification identifies and celebrates companies that achieve, or are making sufficient positive steps to achieve, exceptional positive social and environmental impact. Individually, certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified performance, public transparency, and legal accountability (Livingston, 2012). As such, B Corporations understand the importance of building true, sustainable value whilst genuinely engaging with their community and managing their environmental impact, with the aim of improving the lives of all their stakeholders. This is not about sacrificing profit but instead, by harnessing the power of business, B Corporations are redefining success, to use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for employees, communities and the environment (Livingston, 2012).

Benefit Corporation

Whilst the B Corporation accreditation is an international certification, it has no legal status, as it is issued by a private company. In contrast, the United States has introduced the Benefit Corporation entity, which is a legal status conferred by state law in 30 states. Like B Corporation companies, Benefit Corporations are for-profit businesses that meet higher standards of accountability and transparency, with the aim of using the power of business for the higher purpose of solving challenging societal problems (Reiser, 2011). Benefit Corporations are, however, legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, community and environment (B Lab, 2018).

Whilst there is a difference between B Corporation and Benefit Corporation status, in the 30 US states where Benefit Corporation status is awarded, using the Benefit Corporation structure is the only way to meet the legal requirement for B Corporation certification. Benefit Corporation statutes have, however, attracted criticism for providing neither suitable guidance nor enforcement apparatus for midstream decision making, meaning that it is difficult for dual missions to be held to account over time (Reiser, 2011).


Community Interest Company

In 2005, the British government introduced the Community Interest Company (CIC) designation, which was designed for social enterprises that were seeking to reinvest profits in projects that primarily satisfy social objectives. Whilst they are less stringently regulated than charities, organisations seeking CIC status must be limited companies and are awarded their certificate of incorporation by the CIC regulator (Gov.uk, 2019). However, where this company structure differs from B Corporations and Benefit Corporations, is that CICs must lock all assets and earnings beyond limited investor dividends into the community benefit stream (Gov.uk, 2019; Reiser, 2011), which is likely conflict with the objectives of even the most socially dedicated HPSO.

Social Business Frameworks for HPSOs

Taking all legislation into consideration, there are several factors that suggest B Corporation status is the most appropriate structure to which HPSOs should aspire, if they are seeking to satisfy TSI objectives. Primarily, teams with global brand growth strategies are more likely to be able to resonate with their international fanbase and commercial partners as a certified B Corporation, given the global recognition that is afforded such status (Dahlstrom & Goland, 2018; Livingston, 2012). Furthermore, the requirement for B Corporations to consider their impact on all stakeholders, ensures that the certification process offers more guidance to teams, when assessing TSI in relation to the wide range of stakeholders affected by HPSOs (Clarkson, 1995). Additionally, B Corporations are not restricted to reinvesting all profits earned into projects designed to address social concerns (Storper, 2015). Consequently, the designation does not limit the investment that HPSOs are required to make towards developing the other areas of a business that must be managed to achieve sustained success in all areas of operations.



Social Impact Projects in HPSOs

In practice, there are many HPSOs that are addressing environmental, employee welfare, community engagement, stakeholder selection and governance issues aggressively, however, none have adopted a formal hybrid business model (Belson, 2015; Blaustein, 2017b; City Football Group, 2019; Dumais, 2017; FC Barcelona, 2019; Finlay, 2018; Gumas, 2018; Juventus, 2019; Moses & Mingey, 2015; Real Madrid, 2019). It is, however, obvious from reviewing the literature, that the focus for these organisations has been on environmental and community programs for much longer than it has been on employee investment, stakeholder alignment and transparent governance issues. Furthermore, it is difficult to ascertain as to what extent the social impact programs are integrated into the organisation’s strategic plans.

Positive Environmental Impact

Many HPSOs have invested significant resource into incorporating design and technological innovation into making their arenas and training centres more reliant on sustainable energy, reducing the energy demand created within them, reducing resource waste or reducing the carbon footprint that is involved with the construction of new facilities (City Football Group, 2019; Real Madrid, 2019). Aside from promoting an awareness of the need to care for their environment, these strategies also result in significant reductions in the financial cost of running energy-thirsty facilities and, in some cases, can even create new revenue streams to explore in other areas of the business (City Football Group, 2019; Levis Stadium, 2016). Table 3.1 highlights various initiatives that have been created by HPSOs with the aim of having a positive impact on their environment

HPSO initiatives for positive environmental impact



Community Engagement

Many teams have a non-profit charitable organisation, dedicated to supporting projects in their community, either through fundraising, education or providing manpower and expertise (FC Barcelona, 2019; Gumas, 2018; Real Madrid, 2019). In the USA alone, more than 100 charities and foundations being run by owners, teams and leagues in all major sports had contributed almost $163 million to charitable causes by 2015 (Belson, 2015; Moses & Mingey, 2015). Table 3.2 highlights various community engagement programmes and initiatives that have been established by HPSOs.

HPSO community engagement programmes



Social Impact

One aspect of TSI less well addressed by HPSOs, is that of aligning stakeholder practices with a team’s social objectives (Sheth & Babiak, 2010). One key stakeholder relationship that has significant ability to reinforce or undermine a genuine intention to positively affect social change is that of commercial partners or sponsors (Blaustein, 2017a).

There are high profile cases of “greenwashing”, where poor commercial partner selection has negatively affected the positive societal impact some sports organisations have achieved in other areas of their operations. A high-profile case in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) football system drew attention to this issue, when 10 college athletics programs, including the universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin, entered into a marketing partnership with Koch Industries in 2015. Between 1997 and 2015, Koch Industries had contributed $67 million to groups denying climate change, was the third largest holder of Canadian tar sands oil leases (among the dirtiest oils on the planet) and was leading the fight against the expansion of the solar power industry in Florida through its ‘Americans For Prosperity’ political action group (Blaustein, 2017c). The message this commercial partnership communicated was inconsistent with the environmentally pro-active sentiments that the universities in Minnesota and Wisconsin were proudly promoting and working hard to champion in their athletics departments at the time.

Lifestyle messaging is another area that has attracted significant attention in the area of sports sponsorships, with concerns voiced around the number of brands promoting gambling, alcohol and junk food in the sporting environment (Lindsay et al., 2013). A study of commercial partnerships in Australian Rules Football (AFL) audited each of the 18 teams’ websites and playing uniforms, classifying sponsors as red (alcohol, gambling and junk food/beverage sponsors), amber (venues that provided gambling and other services) or green (sponsors promoting healthy lifestyle concepts).

All 18 teams were reported as having at least one red sponsor, with 15 clubs sponsored by alcohol companies and 5 clubs featuring red sponsor logos on their playing uniforms. Whilst 12 teams had green sponsors, none were displayed on playing uniforms (Sartori et al., 2018). A similar study investigated the prevalence of gambling companies partnering with soccer teams in England and Scotland and reported a dramatic rise in such relationships since 2005. The authors subsequently recommended that legislators took steps to address the trend based on public health concerns (Bunn et al., 2019).

This research illustrates the challenges of balancing commercial revenue streams with social purpose objectives (Bunn et al., 2019; Lindsay et al., 2013; Sartori et al., 2018). Currently, there are far fewer examples of socially aligned commercial partnerships, in comparison with the numerous cases of HPSOs contributing environmental and community initiatives that provide positive impact on their communities.

Partnerships with charitable causes and non-profit organisations are increasing, however. American spending on “cause sponsorship” was expected to reach $2.06 billion in 2017, up from $2 billion in 2016 (Dumais, 2017). Given that the projected sport sponsorship spend in North America alone through 2015 was around $15 billion, it is apparent that a shift towards commercial partnerships, directed at creating shared value for programmes focused on achieving positive societal impact, would help HPSOs significantly increase their influence in this area (City Football Group, 2018; FC Barcelona, 2018; King, 2019; Moses & Mingey, 2015). Table 3.3 provides examples of HSPOs that have engaged with a commercial partner to provide an initiative with a social impact vision.

HPSO alignment with commercial partners to create social impact initiatives


Employee Benefit

An employer’s relationship with its employees is a further consideration that must bear scrutiny when organisations are seeking to achieve B Corporation status (B Lab, 2018). Positively impacting the lives of each worker and their family, has significant positive effects for businesses, in relation to reducing employee turnover and attracting quality talent. Sport has historically buffered the high rate of employee turnover, through the reliance on the high level of competition to enter the industry and the eagerness of employees to navigate the high barriers to entry, to justify paying poor wages and demanding long hours. However, HPSOs such as the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NFL are starting to address working conditions in a positive manner (Belzer, 2015).

A study by Intelligence Group reported that 64% of millennials would rather make $40,000 annually working for a company they love and care about, than $100,000 at a job they find boring or less meaningful (Field, 2015; Winograd & Hais, 2014). Additionally, they are looking for work-life integration, that permits flexible working schedules, in environments that favour collaboration and mentorship (Asghar, 2014). Meanwhile, a Goldman and Sachs study found that millennials, who represent nearly 50% of the global workforce, “have specific needs at work that are dramatically different from previous generations. High among these [is] a desire to align personal and corporate values. To attract and retain this group, we believe that companies need to provide rewards beyond financial gain” (Honeyman & Giadorou Koch, 2015). Such values include a priority to “make the world a better place”

To this end, sports organisations are subsequently striving to innovate in ways to best serve their employees (Finlay, 2018). Table 3.4 illustrates HPSOs that have been recognised for their commitment to creating improved working environments for their employees.

HPSO employee benefit schemes


Governance

An area that has drawn considerable attention in recent months is that of sports governance. B Corporation certification and legislation demands transparent governance, and this is an area where the sports industry as a whole has been challenged to improve. High profile incidences of corruption scandals in soccer and Olympic sport; athlete abuse cases in gymnastics, cycling, athletics and soccer; reports of discrimination in baseball, soccer and rugby; and doping allegations in athletics have all served to harm individual HPSOs and reduce trust in the specific sports in which they operate (Bloom, 2017; Chappelet, 2018; McPhee & Dowden, 2018; Press Association, 2017).

Whether these specific cases have been the result of inappropriate behaviour by directors; the ongoing use of outdated or inequitable structures; failure to execute sufficient background checks on owners or staff; a lack of suitable measures of accountability over board decisions; or presiding over environments that were unable to provide sufficient safety to athletes and staff, these failings of governance have precipitated the call for improvements to be made at both governing body and independent organisational levels (Parent & Hoye, 2018).

Consequently, there has been a significant increase in the compilation of suggested principles and guidelines of governance, in order to counter previous failings (Australian Sport Commission, 2015; Geeraert et al., 2015; IOC, 2016; McPhee & Dowden, 2018; Sport New Zealand, 2018; UK Sport, 2017).

Such documents, including those documented in Table 3.5, have sought to standardise aspects of governance such as: "democratic structure/democracy; accountability; transparency; professionalization; control/supervisory mechanisms; fairness; solidarity/social responsibility; equality; elected presidents; board skills (instead of representation) and term limits; separation of board chair and CEO roles; codes of ethics and conflicts of interest; athlete involvement/representation; stakeholder participation/representation; anti-bribery/corruption codes; equity; respect; autonomy/independence; evaluation; effectiveness; efficiency; planning standards; structure standards; and access and timely disclosure of information” (Chappelet, 2018).

HPSO governance guidelines


The Advantages and Disadvantages of an HPSO Formally Committing to a Social Impact Framework

Considering numerous HPSOs have already been mentioned as leading the industry in creating examples of positive social and environmental impact (Sheth & Babiak, 2010), it could be argued that there is little, to no benefit for HPSOs in committing to becoming a social impact entity and, indeed, that the process might actually be counterproductive. To this end, it is worth considering the drawbacks that might be associated with achieving B Corporation, Benefit Corporation or CIC status.

Firstly, the B Corporation certification process is comprehensive, time consuming and comes at a cost. It would also be necessary for those teams with shareholders to expand their shareholder reports, to provide enough information to determine if the organisation is achieving its stated purpose (Storper, 2015). However, it is argued that in undertaking the certification process, companies are supported in exploring their moral impact and consequently improving their ethical performance (Livingston, 2012). Given the actions of the organisations already identified as seeking to positively impact their communities and environments, this is likely to be welcomed, as opposed to feared. In addition, in acknowledging the disparity between the number of sports organisations investing in community and environmental projects and those investing in stakeholder alignment, employee welfare and governance issues, it could be suggested that employing a B Corporation model might provide the necessary guidance and justification for diverting sufficient resources to improving performance in these areas (B Lab, 2018; Grimes et al., 2018; Livingston, 2012).

Whilst such changes may incur an initial outlay of resources, research shows that good practice in these areas is critical for maintaining trust in the individual organisation and overall industry, which has a knock on effect for improving consumer loyalty and brand value (Australian Sport Commission, 2015; B Lab, 2018; IOC, 2016; UK Sport, 2017).

In the case of the legally bound Benefit Corporations, shareholders can technically bring charges against the company for not conducting its stated social mission, in a manner similar to directors of traditionally legislated companies being sued for violations of fiduciary duty (Livingston, 2012; Storper, 2015). This is not the case for B Corporations, as the accrediation is not legally bound. Thus, whilst such legal uncertainty might impact Benefit Corporations looking to raise capital from private investment sources, this is not the case for B Corporations. Meanwhile, the growing number of social business hybrids, is likely to contribute to increased clarity in this area (Field, 2015).

The demand for B Corporations to carefully examine the moral and ethical practices of their stakeholders, including sponsors, suppliers and investors could be considered to have potentially restrictive consequences on commercial and operational activities. The example of Minnesota and Wisconsin universities’ commercial partnerships with Koch Industries, is one that appears particularly poorly aligned, and had either organisation been legally confined by the statutes of a Benefit Corporation, such an agreement would have prompted considerable legal ramifications. This would not, however, have been the case if either had been certified as a B Corporation and in fact, the necessary process of certification would have flagged this agreement as unethical at the outset, perhaps informing a better decision making process (Grimes et al., 2018).

Furthermore, research in USA concluded that many owners and executives deemed the donation of funds to non-profit organisations and the support of social causes as being more important than their HPSO being economically viable, or making a profit (Sheth & Babiak, 2010). Whilst this particular study returned a low number of usable questionnaires, which might suggest that many owners did not actually value social impact enough to engage in their research, it is apparent that to some owners, and the majority of those responding to the questionnaire, the team is not their primary revenue generating business and in some cases, is actually used as a vehicle to offset losses incurred in other business endeavours (Ilyas, 2017).


There is, however, a consensus amongst owners of B Corporation companies, that the rigorous criteria of the certification process, creates a structure to improve sustainability and operational practices, whilst providing access to a like-minded network of other businesses, that belong to a movement representing how business ought to be conducted in the 21st century (Livingston, 2012). Thus, by incorporating an organisation’s vision of CSR into an overall TSI strategy, HPSOs would integrate their philanthropic interests with the other aims of engaging in CSR initiatives (Sheth & Babiak, 2010). These could involve building relationships through partnering with other stakeholders in the local community and positively impacting other areas of their business. By committing to certifying as a B Corporation and working through the business framework that underpins the certification process, HPSOs could potentially identify areas of overlap and adopt a consistent approach to meeting these objectives throughout their operation (Grimes et al., 2018).

To this end, B Corporation status might actually help HPSOs attract like-minded investors and commercial partners, that are seeking to align social messaging with the power and influence that sports entities provide. Investors are increasingly focusing on companies’ social and environmental performance, with socially responsible investing assets in the five major markets (Europe, USA, Japan, Canada and Australasia) accounting for $30.7 trillion in 2018, which represented a 34% increase in two years (Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, 2018)and more than one quarter of total managed assets globally, which reflects an increase on the $18 trillion figure reported 2014 (Beal et al., 2017). Meanwhile, sponsors are aware that the perceived fit between themselves, the organisation and team identification, significantly influences their brand equity constructs (Dahlstrom & Goland, 2018; Tsordia et al., 2018).

B Corporation status has also been shown to help companies attract, retain and engage top talent around a company’s higher purpose and the B Corporation community’s collective purpose of leading a global movement to redefine success in business (Honeyman & Giadorou Koch, 2015; Winograd & Hais, 2014). Employees are encouraging their employers to have a greater sense of purpose, whilst seeking to become involved in the delivery of societal impact efforts, a fact that was illustrated by employees interviewed at the Arizona Diamondbacks (Asghar, 2014; Belzer, 2015; Eccles, 2017).

When seeking to attract new customers and fans, teams are recognising that consumers are increasingly attuned to information related to the social and environmental impact of the brands to which they are loyal (Dahlstrom & Goland, 2018; Field, 2015; Mennel & Wong, 2015)and it would be complacent to suggest their sporting interests are exempt from this sentiment (Beal et al., 2017). Research by Cone Communications found that consumers align purchases with their values, with 86% of consumers more likely to trust a company that shows the impact of its cause efforts (Mennel & Wong, 2015; Winograd & Hais, 2014). Furthermore, BBMG reported that 73% of consumers consider the company, not just the product when making a buying decision (Dahlstrom & Goland, 2018; Field, 2015). Given the emotional investment involved in choosing which sports team to support, it follows that teams investing in their societal and environmental impact will attract sports fans that share similar values. Therefore, with many millennials aligning themselves with organisations that are socially aware, such strategies might serve to future-proof a team’s fanbase.

By providing an external standard that can be embraced by business owners, certifications such as the one required to achieve B Corporation status, provide a powerful social basis for clearly authenticating the distinctiveness of an organisation’s identity (Grimes et al., 2018). Such an image is important for teams seeking to grow their brand and fanbase, in a market as competitive as high-performance sport (Villarejo-Ramos & Martín-Velicia, 2007).

Whereas much of the research concerning authentication of identity in business has focused on female entrepreneurship (Grimes et al., 2018), the message is also pertinent to HPSOs, who invest heavily in brand development and operate in an industry where employing innovative approaches to achieve high performance is rewarded (Borussia Dortmund, 2019; Brand Finance, 2019; City Football Group, 2019; Deloitte, 2019; FC Barcelona, 2019; Juventus, 2019; Real Madrid, 2019).


Statistics illustrate that female-owned businesses are twice as likely to qualify for B Corporation certification and three times as likely to complete certification. The research suggests that these statistics were founded on the fact that female executives are more likely to operate on values-based differences and pro-actively engage with their consumers on that level (Grimes et al., 2018). However, other studies and observations have demonstrated that many HPSOs are already actively engaging their communities and fans from this perspective (Gumas, 2018; Littlefield, 2016; Sheth & Babiak, 2010). Subsequently, it is reasonable to suggest that B Corporation certification could be an important vehicle in providing the structure and clear identity, through which the cohesiveness (the degree to which common attributes are clearly defined and self-evident) and currency (the degree to which the shared purpose is valued by external audiences) of HPSO brands can be improved (Grimes et al., 2018).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the sound business framework that underpins the B Corporation certification process, addresses all aspects of TSI, which formalise, organise and integrate a corporate entity’s CSR objectives into the overall strategy for running a sustainable, profitable business that positively impacts all of its stakeholders (Clarkson, 1995; Grimes et al., 2018; Livingston, 2012; Storper, 2015).

The sports industry is a highly competitive market environment, where HPSOs are deemed both global and local ambassadors and role models. Qualifying for such a formalised certification as a B Corporation, irrespective of its legal impotence, illustrates a commitment to a vision of purpose that would be deemed attractive to the fast growing community of fans, consumers and commercial partners that identify with similar social responsibility values (Dahlstrom & Goland, 2018; Grimes et al., 2018). Subsequently, it would be considered valuable for HPSOs, already committed to creating positive social and environmental impact in their community and for their stakeholders, to explore the B Corporation certification process.


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