When I think of power and politics in a sports organization I think of conflict. What sports organization has not had the privilege to deal with conflict? The example in the book of the IOC, ISU and WSF is a prime example of how power and politics can take over an organization. Power and Politics go hand-in-hand in sports organizations and they mostly affect the decision-making process. The book details a number of strategies to deal with conflict, however first we must define power and its components along with power and what that entails. Power is defined, from Slack and Parent, as "the ability to get someone to do something they would not have otherwise done or the probability that one actor in a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rest" (152). Different forms of power reside in an organization and they branch off of this definition. The five forms of individual power consist of legitimate power, reward power, coercive power, referent power, and expert power. Many of these forms can overlap since most individuals carry multiple power qualities. The legitimate power involves the title that you hold. These ties to the responsibilities of the title the individual holds as well. Reward power consists of the individual's ability to give a reward over another person or organization. It is simply the ability to take something away from an organization at will, thus giving you power over them. Coercive power is the ability to punish someone instead of rewarding them. This is not a very welcomed method because of its cold hearted nature, considering the reward option listed before but it can be effective. Referent power is mostly when you get the people in power to like you and show them that you can be a colleague type individual them they may give you more power. Expert power refers to the amount of knowledge about something. If you are considered an 'expert' generally more people will respect your opinion and you. This in turn will give you the individual power over someone that is not an expert in the certain field. The five forms of organizational power include: acquisition and control of resources, the ability to cope with uncertainty, centrality, nonsubstitutability, and control over the decision-making process. Politics refers to the "ability to use the bases of power effectively" (204). It is hard to measure but just as important to understand as power. The book examines different types of political tactics used in sports organizations. These include: building coalitions, the use of outside experts, building a network of contacts, and controlling information. If you have at least one of these individual powers then you will be able to more to a more political power role. In the realm of sports organizations they use the individual powers of the people within the organization to create the political power that they have.
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In the first blog we stated what qualities an organization must have in order to be effective. One of those qualities is being able to adapt to the environment surrounding it. I believe the environment can make or break an organization. In today's sporting world economy, fan base, location, and quality are major impacts on an organization's environment. If the economy in the area is really bad there may be more empty seats in the stands which could cause a team to leave. The quality of the stadium, arena, or field could also create (good and bad) problems. If the quality is out-dated (e.g. metrodome) many complaints could be made until a new venue is built. If the quality is up-to-date those empty seats will be filled and will remain filled for most of the season.
The book states that in order for an organization to be effective, "[it] must adapt to the demands of its environment." I think an example of this that we (Minnesotans) are most familiar with are the Gophers and the Twins. So far, the Gophers have been incredibly effective with the production of TCF Bank Stadium. Ticket sales have increased, the fan base is larger because of its on-campus location, and it has up-to-date technology with many benefits that the metrodome could never offer to the Gophers. The same goes for Target Field. It is a stadium tailored to baseball whereas the Dome was not. It is bigger, offering the chance for more people to enjoy it, and it certainly is beneficial to the players since it has real grass. Even though Target Field has its drawbacks, one being the absence of a roof, some fans find that the drawbacks are what draw them to the Field. The Twins are creating a different fan base with the new stadium because of the new characteristics. One quality that both venues have that allows the organizations to be very effective is nostalgia. Gopher football is back on campus and the Twins can play outdoors again. Nostalgia has been a huge marketing strategy for both teams and has been a big selling point for many ticket buyers.
Several sectors make up the general environment, these include: economic, political, socio-cultural, legal, demographic, ecological and technical. The productions of TCF Bank Stadium and Target Field have shown that the Gopher and Twins sport organizations can adapt to the demands of their general environment effectively.
Questions for discussion: What is another MLB or College team that has shown the same effectiveness as the Twins and Gophers? For the teams that had to leave thier cities due to ineffectiveness of the organization, what could they have done to prevent it?
An effective organization has three main functions, as described by the book: complexity, formalization, and centralization. I will describe these more in detail later when I use an overall example to demonstrate these functions. Complexityis defined as being the different levels of a hierarchy(or non-hierarchy) system in an organization. The three different types of differentiation: horizontal, vertical, and spatial. Formalization is the extent to which the organization has specific rules and regulations encircling its structure. Centralization is the more complex of the three functions as it involves who makes the main decisions in the organization. I agree with Hage and Aiken's definition saying, to sum up, an organization is more centralized when the employees at the highest levels make the decisions.
It's easier to understand the concepts when they are seen in a real-life scenario such as the Boston Red Sox MLB organization. I would say the Red Sox have a vertical differentiation with a tall structure but also departmentalized by function within that structure. They have the different departments including: Front Office, Baseball Operations, Marketing, Legal, and Public Relations to name a few. However, these departments report to the Officers who include the CEO, Director, and Owner. The Red Sox are also very formalized since they are a branch of the Major League Baseball organization. They follow the rules set forth by the MLB which are specific to each department. It's hard to measure the centralization of the Red Sox because of it's many levels and departments but I would say that all-in-all it is more of a group effort to create an effective organization meaning it is less centralized.
I said in my last post that communication is the overall key to having an effective organization however now I would add to that and say that the organizational structure is also very important. We had a lot of examples in class and in the book of successful organizations that have very strong structures that prove how important that is. Brunswick, for example, increased their revenue by $2 billion in only five years after they were restructured to better fit their goals.
Red Sox information found at http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/team/front_office.jsp?c_id=bos