Relationship Between Governance, Ethics And Conflict Of Interest In Sports Management

The Importance of Ethics in Sports Organizations

The sports organizations have to be disciplined and have to follow the governance practices and the principles. The government bodies are watching over these organizations so that the ethical practices can be followed by the sports organizations in an effective manner. The ethics programs are increasing the conflict of interest and it is considered as ethical issue. It is difficult for the sports organizations to make the decisions because of the conflict of interests. The research study is focused upon identifying (1) in what manner the relationship among the business and sport has increased the complication of the ethical issues which affects the contemporary sport management, (2) identifying the relationship between governance, business ethics and sport management and (3) why the occurrence of conflict of interest is related to sport management. This research study will help in identifying the impact upon the sport management due to the conflict of interests and the increased focus of the governing bodies upon ethical practices in sports industry.

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The sports organizations operate in highly competitive environment. It is also important for the organizations to make the right decisions in order to meet the ethical obligations. The increased focus in the area of sport ethics, governance and the conflict of interest has demonstrated that it is important for the sports organizations to follow the ethics. The conflict of interest occurs in the sport organizations and its management is now becoming the focus of the governing bodies. Apart from this, it is important for the sports organizations to follow the governance principles and practices in the sports industry in order to make the right decisions. The sports organizations are facing the problem because of ethics programs as it is giving rise to conflict of interest. The sport organizations are struggling with the management of the conflict of interest. Along with this, it is creating the problems in sport management for the sports organizations (DeSensi & Rosenberg, 2013).

Making the decisions in the sports organizations is difficult. This is because it affects many people associated with the sports organization whose interests are mainly in conflict such as the community, athletes, business, fans and the media (Pike Masteralexis, Barr, & Hums, 2012). The decisions are taken by the sport managers while considering the reputation of league, financial costs, law, effect on team, as well as the impact on the winning games. The difficult decision making can give rise to conflict of interest. The aim of this research paper is to discuss about how the relationship among the business and sport has increased the complication of the ethical issues which affects the contemporary sport management. Mainly, the focus of this research study is to define – in what manner the conflict of interest is evident in sport and business both. The research study will focus upon the aim through the effective investigation using the appropriate method.

Making Ethical Decisions in Sports Organizations

The research questions are:

  1. How the relationship among the business and sport has increased the complication of the ethical issues which affects the contemporary sport management.
  2. What is the relationship between governance, business ethics and sport management?
  3. How the occurrence of conflict of interest is related to sport management?

Business ethics sports management and sport

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The past research studies related to sport ethics mainly focused upon the ethical dimensions of sport and athletes. The implementation of the ethics principles in the sport organizations and management is a recent phenomenon. The effect of the business culture and the practices upon sport has occurred due to the changes in the society towards the ethical behaviour of the organizations and the development and changes in the sport industry. The links among the business and sport has supported the residues of ethical debate to the degree the sports managers are considered. The influence of the media and commercialisation of sport are considered as the factor that contributes in establishing the corruptive nature of sport setting (DeSensi & Rosenberg, Ethics and Morality in Sport Management, 2003).

According to Densi and Rosenberg (2003), the sport management ethics is a type of moral philosophy that considers the ethical principles and the theories in order to establish the understanding in the sport management and resolve the moral dilemmas and its investigations (DeSensi & Rosenberg, 2003).The ethics are about integrity, respect, fairness, democracy, equity and doing right thing as well as the duty of care for officials, participants, coaches, administrators and public. The increasing professionalism of sport management and sport has highlighted the connections among the professionalism and desirability of the ethical management behaviours. The managers in the sport organization are highly responsible for the management of the organization, addressing the ethical questions like equity, personal issues, legal management issues professionalism and social justice related to sport (Daly, 2003).

The sport managers have to face and take the ethical decisions. The people involved in state and national sport organization have to face the political pressure, external pressure, corporate pressure and public pressure for athletes to attain the success and win the game internationally and domestically (Malloy & Zakus, 2009).

Governance and system of sport

The continuous development of management of the sport organizations and governance mainly the structural changes in the governance and the management has been the interest area to many of the researchers (Hoye & Auld, 2011). Bureaucratisation and the professionalism of the sport not occurred in a systematic manner but in an organic manner. The changes are determined and implemented as per the requirement of the people associated with the sport organization.

Corporate governance is more than mechanistic internal control and approval process. It has been argued by Milton-Smith (2017) that the corporate governance helps in setting up the expectations related to setting higher standards of the decision making for the help of the decision makers to meet the demand of public and establishing the greater transparency (Milton-Smith, 2017). It is then supported by Francis (2010) that corporate governance is good in terms of moral and non-moral sense. The decision making can become efficient through the strategic planning and appropriate resource allocation in terms of non-moral sense. On the other hand, it helps in promoting the ethical climate, attention to the duties of directors and due diligence (Francis, 2010).

Corporate Governance and Ethics in Sports Organizations

The relationship among the internal control and the responsibilities of governance and the external legal system is important to be emphasized. It is argued that the need of laws is there to protect the society from the people who do not follow the ethics. The ethical corporate practice is controlled in best manner by board members or by the corporate culture. The ethical organizations and the responsible governance structures can be developed with the help of legal regulations but in a limited manner. The basic framework of the accountability and procedure can be provided by the law but the corporate governance should go further (Farrar, 2001).

Ethical sport management

Many authors noted the relationship among ethics and the professional sport management. It has been stated by author that sport management struggles to move to greater professional status and the autonomy is relevant to ethics. It is important to comply with the professional obligations. It has been discussed by DeSensi & Rosenberg (2003) about the importance of guiding about the ethical principles and the moral values related to delivery system of sport that incorporates participants, consumers and the employees. Along with this, the interest of public and media in behaviours of people associated with the sport organizations are inspected more. The interest of public is mainly for the organizations of sport and athletes (DeSensi & Rosenberg, Ethics and Morality in Sport Management, 2003).

The role of ethics is highlighted in the sport management as it is required in this area which has resulted in the increased scrutiny and interest of decision and the behaviours of sport organizations athletes and managers of sport organizations. The critical attention is required towards the ethics in order to reduce the breaches in the ethical practices in the society. Apart from this, the competition among the sport organizations has increased for attracting the sponsors which has contributed in increasing the conflicts of interest among the sport administrators and the policy makers (DeSensi & Rosenberg, 2013).

Conflict of interest and its implications for sport management

The meaning of sport is different for every individual. The people associated with the sports organizations have to play different roles and position in organization. The complexity related to the different situations can be increased by occurrence of multiple conflicts and multiple players that can be identified while discussing about the conflict of interest. Multiple positions in the organization and the different roles and the responsibilities of the individuals in the organization can create the opportunities to conflicts of interest within different situations (Demski, 2003).

Professionalism and Ethics in Sports Management

Holding multiple roles can give rise to the situation in which the interests of every role are conflicting. Conflict of interest occurs because of many roles of a person in the organization hence the obligation to avoid responding within avoidable relationship through divesting the roles.

Many authors discussed about the different between the potential and the actual conflict of interests in which a person take actions against the interests of another person and possibility of action. The performance of duty can be interrupted by the actual or potential conflict of interest. The perception of conflict of interest damages the organization and the person involved in terms of ethical practices which can affect the public confidence in sport organization. The reputation of the organization is important and it is difficult to achieve a good reputation. The effect of the situations of conflicts of interest in the sport organizations can be there upon the structural elements like obligations, benefits and issues of trust. The expectations of the society are higher for the sports organizations. Hence, the role of ethics is highly important in sporting organizations’ governance and it has increased with the increased focus upon ethics, sport governance and conflicts of interests (Satori, 2015).

Managing conflicts of interest

The code of ethical conduct and the particular policy related to conflict of interest has been developed by the governing bodies for sport. Along with this, there are different provisions for the conflict of interest. There are different range of conflict of interest in the sport management and the issues of avoiding conflict of interest as well as the actions that can be taken by the sport management practitioners. The effectiveness of the corporate ethical policies and its position is not acknowledging. The organizations have developed their own regulatory systems in order to avoid, identify and resolve the conflicts of interest. The self-regulatory structures involve the development of formal policy, disclosure of the situations of conflict of interest for getting informed consent from the parties affected (Shapiro, 2003).

Self-regulatory structures can help in managing the conflicts of interest in the sport industry. At the time of identification of conflict of interest, it is important to follow the policies.  Conflict of interest can take place in different roles and it is the responsibility of the key decision makers to guide for the development of sport. In sport organizations, leadership and governance is important. There are no such owners of the sport organizations but it has association with the governing bodies and the sponsors that controls the rules, events and the athletes. The nature, style and type of governance of sport organizations are influenced by the increasing complex issues. It is important for the sport managers to have the skills and the expertise so that they can resolve the conflict of interests and can follow the practices and the principles to manage the sport organization. The business ethics and the corporate governance are highly emphasized. The changes in the governance related to sport and the practices related to business are taking place. It is important to establish the ethical framework in order to manage the sport organization and follow the sport business practices. The sport organizations can learn from the changes in corporate governance. In order to improve the corporate governance, it is important for the governments to emphasize upon allocating the funds equitably and meeting the agendas of government (Daly, 2003).

Conflict of Interest in Sports Organizations

Research Design

Research design is a systematic way that is adopted in order to solve a problem and scientifically study how research will be carried out (Rajasekar, Philominathan, & Chinnathambi, 2013). In this research primary and secondary method of data collection has been used to fulfil the objectives of the research. Primary data collection is used in order to gather first-hand information. This method uses two major approaches and that is quantitative and qualitative analysis approach. Qualitative analysis approach uses interview to gather information and quantitative analysis uses survey analysis in order to gather the information related to research questions. Under the secondary data collection method previous works of experts on the same topic are analysed that helps to gain insight over the research topic and reach to conclusion (The Hartford, 2018). The main strength of this research design is that it will help to undertake a comparative analysis with the peer reviewed work as well as will also help to gain first-hand information related to the issue of the research. The weakness of primary data collection method is that it is a time consuming process and requires huge investment.

Target Population

The target population of this research includes the employees of the sports organization and the sports managers.

Sampling and Sample size

Random sampling method has been selected for survey analysis and convenience sampling method has been selected for interview analysis as per the convenience of the managers. The main benefits of random sampling are that there is an equal chance of selection for the participants of survey. The data analysis undertaken is less risky and less chances of errors are there. This is one of the simplest forms of data collection (Vittana, 2018). Convenience sampling is very easy and contains less rules and regulations. It helps in collecting useful data which may not be possible with the help of probability sampling (Laerd, 2018). In order to conduct interview analysis 5 sports organization managers has been selected. For undertaking survey analysis 40 employees of the sports organization has been selected.

Data Analysis Method

In this research data will be analysed by using Ms Excel. The analysed data will be presented in the form of pie charts. The responses of the interview analysis will be analysed with the help of thematic analysis. The main benefit of this is that it helps in collecting information in the most meaningful and useful manner (Nowell, Norris, & White, 2017). For undertaking thematic analysis qualitative data will be used, and for undertaking the analysis with the help of Ms Excel quantitative data will be used. The main strength of the quantitative data analysis strategy is that it is simple to understand. Along with this it gives accurate data that can be used to reach to the conclusion easily. The strength of thematic analysis is that it facilitates the traceability as well as the verification of the data analysed. The main weakness of these strategies is that it is a time consuming process.


The research study is focused upon identifying the increased complications of the ethical issues, which affect contemporary sport management due to the relationship between the business and sport. The link among the sport management, governance and the business ethics will be identified with the help of the research study. The relationship among the sports management and occurrence of the conflict of interest will also be identified. The research methods that will be used for conducting the research and collecting the data and information will help in meeting the objectives of the research study in an effective manner. The methods that will be used for the analysis will help in analysing the results of the research in an effective manner, which will eventually help in collecting the evidence for the research questions.  


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