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A systematic review of governance principles in sport

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posted on 2023-12-14, 05:02 authored by A Thompson, EL Lachance, MM Parent, Russell HoyeRussell Hoye
Research question: Given the plethora of governance principles proposed by academics, government agencies, and sport governing bodies, this study systematically reviewed the current landscape of governance principles in sport. Research methods: Following the PRISMA, PIECES, and the University of Warwick protocols, a search of academic and grey literatures resulted in 594 unique records. After screening the records for relevance and quality, 73 records (12%) remained. Results and findings: Most sources were non-empirical, originating from academic working groups and sport governing bodies located predominantly in Europe. Overall, 258 unique governance principles were found. Transparency, accountability, and democracy dominated frequency-wise, while Board-related principles were the most popular focus, followed by stakeholder engagement. The list of principles was synthesized through an inductive thematic analysis into four categories: structure-based, process-based, outcome-based, and context-based. Empirical studies demonstrated governance principles’ assessments in national and international sport organizations to be average at best. Implications: Findings highlight the systemic and multi-dimensional nature of governance. The four governance principles categories point to academics and practitioners seeing/enacting governance in different ways: structurally at different levels of the organization (i.e. including and beyond the Board), in the organization’s managerial processes, as desired organizational outcomes, and according to their specific context. Researchers and practitioners should endeavour to be purposeful in their use of terms (e.g. ‘principle’ vs ‘indicator’), define their terms, and offer greater details to present higher quality assessment outcomes. We encourage researchers to use more robust, evidence-based governance principles and sophisticated measures/advanced analyses in future assessments of governance.


This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada under Grant number 435-2017-0247 and Sport Canada under Grant number 862-2017-0006.


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European Sport Management Quarterly






26p. (p. 1863-1888)


Taylor & Francis



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© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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