Organisational learning for corporate social responsibility in sport organisations

Zeimers, Géraldine, Anagnostopoulos, Christos orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7470-5191, Zintz, Thierry and Willem, Annick (2018) Organisational learning for corporate social responsibility in sport organisations. European Sport Management Quarterly, 19 (1). pp. 80-101. ISSN 1618-4742

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Research question: Although the implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) may require changes at the strategic, organisational, and operational levels, studies fall short of investigating the role of organisational learning (OL), which is key to grasp how CSR occurs in organisations. This study fills this gap by exploring the dynamic interaction between different levels of the learning process through which sport organisations implement CSR.

Research methods: Drawing on Crossan et al.’s 4I Framework, we examine the learning sub-processes characterising CSR implementation in a sport federation. This study uses a single-case-study research design and analyses interviews (n = 18) and organisational documents (n = 20).

Results and Findings: This study reveals that OL for CSR is a critical multilevel and dynamic process that consists of learning subprocesses at the intra-organisational and inter-organisational levels. CSR requires both learning new ways of incorporating CSR practices, as well as embedding into the organisation what has already been learnt. Informal and formal groups were identified as strong repositories of learning, while external stakeholders are essential sources of learning intertwined within the organisation alongside the work of inter-organisational boundary spanners.

Implications: Theoretically, this paper extends the discussion of CSR implementation by highlighting the critical role of. It does so by revealing patterns of learning institutionalisation for CSR in a particular European sport federated setting. These findings highlight that the level of institutionalisation of learning influences the integration and sustainability of the CSR strategy. Practically, managers should consider these learning subprocesses as appropriate platforms on which to instil the CSR construct within their organisation.

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