Theoretical models


The models typically used to understand the governance of NPOs are presented here. Given the specific characteristics of NPOs such as the IOC and the IF, the analytical framework by Perez (2003), including an analysis of “corporate governance” up to “meta-governance” has a particular interest in our study.

According to Pérez (2003), governance is an institutional and behavioural system which governs the relationships between the leaders of a company, i.e. an organisation – and the parties concerned with the future of the organisation, primarily those who possess the “legitimate rights” over the organisation.

However, given the international dimension, the large number of stakeholders (internal: national and continental organisations, elected managers and volunteers and salaried staff, external: the media, sponsors, IOC, WADA[1], CAS[2] and UNO[3] mainly) and characteristics of the sport system, the governance of the IOC and of the IFs should be analysed according to three dimensions: organisational, political and systemic (Henry, 2001).

Governance concerns the exercise of power, the decision-making processes and policy making (structures and processes) to improve the performance of an organisation (Chappelet and Bayle, 2005) and to achieve its objectives[4]. Thus, in terms of corporate governance, there are similarities with the approaches by Charreaux, 1997, 2003 and Gomez, 1996, 2001; Pesqueux, 2000; Le joly & Moingeon, 2001; Pérez, 2003; Mintzberg, 2004; Finet, 2005. However, this interpretation is inadequate to understand the functioning of non-profit organisations. Indeed, on the one hand, the multidimensional nature of objectives and performance of these organisations is not merely the financial dimension (Madella, 1998; Bayle, 2000). On the other hand, the multiplicity of players involved in the organisation and management of sport (clubs, national and international federations, sports ministries …) complicates the process of decision-making and exercise of power. Finally, the ambiguity of the relationship between elected leaders (mostly volunteers) and paid management makes the distribution of the power of decision-making and (political / managerial / operational) roles even more problematic. These three characteristics form the basis of the specificity of the governance of nonprofit organisations that some authors have already studied (Fama & Jensen 1983; Courtois, 1997)[5].

The second (political) dimension concerns the relationship between the organisations and the political field. On the one hand, it is necessary to report on how political institutions (States, European Union, international bodies like UNO …) seek to influence the sport system through the implementation of regulatory, financial and ethical measures. On the other hand, we want to analyse the concept of power, not in an intra-organisational dimension, but rather at an inter-organisational level. IF must manage new relationships with private players (large corporate sponsors and media groups for example) with  public players (European Union, UNO …) to face the  social, educational, economic and symbolic challenges that sport now represents (cf. on this topic, the study published by Chappelet, 2010 regarding the autonomy of the international sporting movement).

The third dimension (systemic) is intended to reflect situations of interdependence and forms of “regulation of inter-organisational relationships” and of coordination of actions within a complex system. The idea of complexity refers to the uncertainty of the environment, to the multiplicity of stakeholders with sometimes different (public, voluntary, market) interests and to the multiple levels of coordination (from local to global). The notion of systemic governance marks the transition from a centralised control / coordination of actions which is hierarchical and vertical (government) to a horizontal regulation / coordination in terms of the networks based on consensus / compromise and power sharing.

These principles cover a rationality, transparency, negotiation and listening requirement at the same time. Their progressive implementation corresponds to a societal movement that is expressed within sports organisations as well as in their environment of sports organisations as requirements and performance standards imposed by public and private partners. But in a more prosaic way, it also meets the performance standards imposed by public or private partners who are subject to more and more stringent business rules and ever more strict controls.

[1] WADA: the World Anti Doping Agency. WADA is considered an independent organization from the IOC although half its budget comes from the TV rebroadcasting rights of Games and although its president is a member of the IOC.

[2] CAS : Court of Arbitration for Sport

[3] UNO : United Nations Organisation

[4] Although it was denied by Jensen (2008)

[5] In sport associations, the studies are more recent, very scattered (Papadimitriou, 1999; Bayle, 2001). Cf. the review by Hoye & Cuskelly, 2006).