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Center for Sports & Business Partnership Day

On Tuesday, November 29th, the Center for Sports and Business held a partnership day at the Stockholm School of Economics. The day covered a broad array of topics such as an external environment analysis and trends we see globally, strategic challenges for Swedish sports, strategic development as well as operational focus and measuring of sustainability. During this successful day, representatives from Sweden's major sports, hockey, football, golf, trot racing and skiing as well as key individuals from the political sphere gathered and had insightful discussions.

Overarching Theme 

The theme of the Center for Sports & Business' partnership day was A Sport in Change: Future Path Choices

One starting point was how the combination of association (i.e. identity, emotions, community, volunteering) and company (investments, paid work, customers, growth) can become a folk festival. Another one was the strategic development map that the Center for Sports & Business created together with its partners some years ago. This included the areas of efficiency (hybrid organisations, steering, performance measurement, sports events, talent development), innovation (infrastructure, sport innovation, digitalization, open innovation and intellectual property), and sustainability (culture and norms, sustainable events and arenas, dual careers and to measure impact). 


09.30-10.00 Registration & coffee

10.00-10.30 External environment analysis - what trends do we see internationally?

10.30-11.00 Strategic challenges for Swedish sports that have political bearing

11.00-11.15 Fika 

11.15-12.00 Strategic development - to approve different forms of hybrids 

12.00-13.00 Lunch 

13.00-14.00 Operational focus - to combine narration and measurement

14.00-15.00 Measurement of sustainability - learnings from Cancerfonden

15.00-15.15 Fika

15.15-16.00 Summary and forward view 

Trends in Global Sports 

Martin Carlsson-Wall, Director for the Center for Sports & Business and Associate Professor at the Department of Accounting at SSE, highlighted some important trends within global sports, namely, data analytics, the team and the city as well as female sports.

Also, the global sports ecosystem is growing rapidly, with an annual growth of over 5% since 2014, amounting to 145 billion USD in 2019 (according to Dan Singer, Global Leader of Sports and Entertainment at McKinsey & Co).

Furthermore, the media landscape is also changing, where the digital sphere is establishing itself as the dominant medium for brand and product advertising globally. 

Regarding the financial power of global sports, we can see that the American Leagues such as NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL are largest at financial scale, followed by Premier League, LaLiga and Bundesliga. 

One interesting insight is that U.S. sports revenue growth over the last twenty years has materially outperformed the S&P 500 stock market index. 

Strategic Challenges for Swedish Sports 

Concerning strategic challenges these were discussed in light of the major elements of sports, namely passion, profit and politics. 

Issues discussed in the intersection between politics and passion were accessibility and the importance that a wide range of sports need to be available throughout Sweden and for all groups, sports culture & norms as well as school/integration relating to the fact that hybrid sports contribute with strong identification, flexibility and strong brands, and school/integration. 

Relating to the intersection between politics and profits, topics such as attraction/identity (city branding, talent recruitment, democracy), work places, events and tourism were touched upon. 

In the final intersection between passion and profit, the areas of taxes, health, physical exercise, mental illness, introduction jobs, digitialization and the financing of the sports ecosystem were discussed. 

During this session, we were also joined by Petra Noreback (parliamentary under-sectretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs that is also responsible for all sports related issues) and Mikael Lindman (kansliråd at the Justice Department). 

Strategic Development

Next, Carlsson-Wall talked about the phenomenon of hybrid organizations, where either some traditional non-profits become more integrated or some traditional for-profit companies become more integrated. We can find hybrid organizations everywhere in today's society, from family businesses, to social enterprises, football clubs, business schools and other state-owned or municipality owned organizations. 

At SSE, the Center for Sports & Business is preparing current students that are aspiring to become future leaders regarding precisely this issue. With our Bachelor elective course in Hybrid Organizations: Value Creation and Strategy, we explore value creation in hybrids such as sports, culture, social enterprises, family businesses and state/municipality owned companies. The course is given for its second time in the spring of 2023 with approximately 60 students registered. 

When it comes to leading hybrid organizations, there are two things which determine success. First, guardrails - structures that ensure that one logic in a hybrid does not become too dominant leading to the hybrid becoming unbalanced - and, second, "både/och tänkande", an attitude that turns potential conflicts into something positive and not to an impulse of negative defend behavior. 

Operational Focus 

Subsequently, the combination of narration and measurement was discussed. Research conducted at the Stockholm School of Economics showed for instance the importance of "accounting talk" - i.e. how the metaphorical representations of accounting concepts link the unfamiliar domain of accounting to a more familiar domain and provide rationales for organisational change. Similarly to the topic of hybrid organizations, we offer a course in Financial Communications at the master level to prepare students. 

The Swedish Cancer Society 

Furthermore, we were also joined by Staffan Samuelsson, the CFO for the Swedish Cancer Society. Among others, Samuelsson talked about how the Cancer Society works, for instance, with research, prevention, advice & support, impact, financing and organization. 

Samuelsson also shed some light on why it is important to measure impact for the Swedish Cancer Society. Some important aspects include to show results, attain financing, learn and develop, distribute resources, motivate employees, build trust, as well as live up to governing documents. 

Finally, he also described his organization's steering model, their strategy to combat cancer faster, the separation of steering and monitoring in order to create focus, steering hierarchy and sustainability work.  

Next Steps 

Drawing inspiration from how we work within the Center for Sports & Business, a model to build bridges between the research frontier and the practical frontier was discussed. At the Center for Sports & Business our strategic wheel include the areas of Executive Education (executive education for CEOs and league management team as well as Management Diploma for Athletes), Recruitment (our yearly career fair for sports organisations and students at SSE), Education (courses, theses), Research and Strategic Challenges. 

Upcoming Activities

With this in mind, we also went through the activities the Center for Sports and Business is doing during the year to ensure and develop the cooperation between academia and sports. The upcoming year consists of both the Sports & Business Week (February 6-12), four advisory board meetings, an event regarding Sports and Equality on International Women's Day (March 8), Partnership Days in May and November/December as well as a Strategy Forum in the fall.