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Mission vs. Market: Theorizing the Tensions within Community Sport Trusts

Bostock, James, Bull, Michael, Woodward, Jon and Sibley, Jonathan ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5560-7158 (2021) Mission vs. Market: Theorizing the Tensions within Community Sport Trusts. The International Journal of Sport and Society, 13 (1). pp. 1-22. ISSN 2152-7857

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Abstract

With the withdrawal of the state from local sport provision in the UK, Community Sport Trusts (CSTs) have grown significantly. The growth of CSTs is a direct outcome of neoliberal and austerity policy contexts in the UK. Research on the commodification of services delivered by hybrid social organizations suggests tensions between mission and market (internal purpose versus external control). Yet little research to date has been conducted on CSTs, with even less research that takes a critical approach. We seek to begin to consider this research gap by theorizing the problem, by looking at the tensions in hybridity, social mission, enterprise objectives, and financial sustainability of CSTs. We approach this by theory building from an examination of multidisciplinary literature; community sport, non-profit management, social enterprise, and social accounting literature to arrive at a conceptual model. This model contributes to knowledge by identifying and drawing out the tensions at play. We call for further theoretical and empirical research on CSTs that problematizes the “social” and draws attention to the inherent tensions in these hybrid business models, which are both academically under-explored and crucial to the success of a policy context where CSTs play a significant and expanding role in community sport delivery.

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