Social Impact through Local Sport
: Adapting Corporate Social Responsibility through Sport (CSRTS) to Small and Medium Enterprise (SME)

  • Christopher Yorke

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Corporate social responsibility has become an accepted business practice in the professional sport sector due to benefits that can include improved finances, reputation and staff morale (Murillo & Lozano, 2006). The synergy has resulted in new concepts, including corporate social responsibility through sport, when non-sport organisations partner with sport organisations to utilise the unique attributes of sport to their advantage (Bason & Anagnostopoulos, 2015).
However, there has been no attempt to adapt the concept to a small and medium enterprise perspective, despite accounting for 90% of the world’s businesses (Grimstad et al., 2020) and their idiosyncratic approach to corporate social responsibility compared to multi-national enterprises (Fassin, 2008; Lampadarios et al., 2017).
Non-sport small businesses can align with smaller grassroots sport organisations that lack the resources and profile of professional sport organisations. Innovative approaches to support grassroot sport are essential as they contribute significantly to physical activity levels, social interaction and positive mental health well-being within the UK populace (Donnelly & Kidd, 2003; Misener & Doherty, 2012).
Therefore, this research presents a new conceptualisation by utilising case studies demonstrating a tripartite relationship between small businesses, grassroots sports organisations, and corporate social responsibility. The relationships were investigated using reflective thematic analysis to evaluate the role of key stakeholders to assess their motivations, engagement practices, challenges and opportunities. A Delphi study contributed towards a deeper understanding of the internal challenges within a grassroot sport organisation and the opportunities to utilise external support from small businesses. Key themes within the participants' experiences were identified and aligned with academic research.
As a result, a new framework of social impact through local sport is presented as a means to secure wider small business engagement with grassroots sport to secure social impact. Small businesses and grassroots sport organisations operate in increasingly challenging environments, elevated due to COVID-19, requiring innovative and entrepreneurial approaches (Ratten, 2020). The social impact through local sport framework offers a guided pathway to secure mutually beneficial relationships and improve their financial sustainability. In doing so, the strategy can be implemented across the UK and other countries, like Australia and New Zealand, where interorganisational networks exist between sport and small businesses (Bradbury et al., 2021).
Keywords: corporate social responsibility, sport, social impact
Date of Award30 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorMike Rayner (Supervisor), Thomas Webb (Supervisor) & Chris Wagstaff (Supervisor)

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