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The Provision of UK Sport Services via Social Enterprise: Managing Social and Financial Tensions in Leisure Trusts

Kehoe, Neill (2020) The Provision of UK Sport Services via Social Enterprise: Managing Social and Financial Tensions in Leisure Trusts. Masters by Research thesis (MPhil), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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This study provides an insightful contribution to our understanding of social enterprise by investigating the governance of specific organisational types of social enterprise within the context of sport provision. It helps us understand how two Leisure Trusts, one being a Benefit for Community (BenCom) and the other a Company Limited by Guarantee with Charitable Status (CLG-CS) can improve sport provision. Specifically, the study examines how each Leisure Trust manages tensions associated with the creation of social and financial value and therein avoid mission drift. Contemporary discourse on this issue is limited at best. Therefore, this study helps further our understanding of social enterprise in the UK. The study was conducted within the context of sport and leisure provision in the UK and examined two Leisure Trusts via qualitative case studies on each organisation. Interviews with senior management and board members/trustees along with direct observations produced the evidential trail. This study presents findings which highlight specific challenges facing different types of social enterprise and how they can impact upon the occurrence of mission drift. The findings show us that there is no single distinct approach to managing competing tensions across the two Leisure Trusts investigated. This study claims that mission drift in Leisure Trusts is a fluid process and is influenced by numerous factors, particularly the austerity measures imposed on local councils. It is argued the role of government policy plays a significant part in the development of both organisations. It is argued that austerity is becoming a veneer for privatisation of public sport provision delivery for the Leisure Trusts examined. The study suggests that one Leisure Trust is at considerable risk of future mission drift because of their focus on social objectives and oversight of financial stability. The stakeholder model of governance within this Leisure Trust prevents the CEO from performing their role adequately to address the challenges they face. The other Leisure Trust was found to possess a stewardship governance model which enables the organisation to take advantage of commercial opportunities whilst retaining and resourcing the creation of social value. The Managing Director of this Leisure Trust is given authority to make strategic and operational decisions in the interest of their stakeholders.

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