Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Alex Phillips on a "Good Governance Code" for European Team Sport Federations

Alex Phillips has written an excellent thesis as part of earning an Executive Master in European Sport Governance. It is titled, "What Should be in a 'Good Governance Code' for European Team Sport Federations?" and I am posting it here in PDF with his permission.

Phillips asked me to be clear that the thesis is purely his personal work.

Here is the overview:
This thesis is based around a simple concept, namely to answer the following question: “What should be in a ‘Good Governance Code’ for European Team Sport Federations?” A company listed on a stock exchange receives a “Good Governance Code” (or similar) from the stock exchange which explains the governance criteria that the company must comply with. Similar codes or, at least, good practice guides exist for NGOs, public bodies and other types of organisations. At the moment, however, the six members of the Association of European Team Sports (“ETS”) do not have any such code/criteria applicable to their specific type of organisation and activities. This does not necessarily mean that there is bad governance, but rather that the issue has never been addressed in a systematic, strategic way. There is, however, increasing evidence that supports the need for such a Good Governance Code (or similar).

The methodology of this thesis comprised three parts: firstly, an exhaustive literature review of both generic and sports-specific governance literature; secondly, a series of semi-structured interviews with a high-level, representative sample of sports organisations and stakeholders; and, thirdly, analysis and synopsis of the information gathered to reach conclusions. The areas examined as part of the interviews comprised an open evaluation of what constitutes good governance, followed by 16 general areas comprising 52 specific questions. The general conclusions can be summarised as follows. The creation of a “Good Governance Code” for ETS Federations is necessary and should, as a minimum, address the following eight areas:
• Organisational Structures, in particular regarding: the assurance of democratic structures and processes; the balance of powers between the different organs; the specific roles of the members, president, board, administration, committees and judicial bodies; and the involvement of stakeholders and minority views.
• Transparency, in particular regarding the communication of the organisational mission/vision/objectives/strategy, processes, key decisions and financial information.
• Accountability, with a focus on creating effective mechanisms of accountability, bearing in mind the difficulty of measuring success in sports organisations (compared to a company, for example, where shareholder value can be relatively easily measured).
• Ethical behaviour, in order to implement and maintain, and be seen to be maintaining, high ethical standards at all levels of sport.
• Commercial rights, in order to introduce best practice from outside sport regarding the awarding of commercial contracts, for example by adapting public procurement legislation.
• Selection of hosts for major events, ensuring that ETS members can illustrate that these increasingly important events are chosen in as transparent, rigorous and accountable a way as possible.
• Solidarity, which, although a “political” (rather than “corporate”) governance principle, is core to the activities of sports organisations i.e. not just running competitions but also directly developing sport. Here, corporate comparisons are less useful than those with standards set by NGOs (for example, regarding minimum proportions/amounts of development revenues/funding, controls and transparency over such distributions, etc.).
• Autonomy and relations with the political world, to define and establish best practice for relations with the political world where, in future, much work may need to be done by way of co-operation.

Based on these general conclusions, the main recommendation of this thesis is that the ETS should launch a process to further research, draft, agree and then implement a “Good Governance Code” (or similar). The research and conclusions of this thesis could potentially contribute to such a process. If successfully implemented, such a code would bring many benefits for both the organisations themselves and for their respective sports.


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