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The application of agency theory to managing collaborative relationships between sport organizations: The case of Sport Canada and Canadian Interuniversity Sport Open Access


Other title
agency theory
Canadian Interuniversity Sport
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Reade, Ian
Supervisor and department
Washington, Marvin (Physical Education and Recreation)
Bouffard, Marcel (Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Syrotuik, Dan (Physical Education and Recreation)
Weese, Jim (University of Western Ontario)
Denison, Jim (Physical Education and Recreation)
Suddaby, Roy (School of Business)
Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The purpose of this study was to advance the discussion of collaboration between Canadian sport organizations beyond current levels of critical rhetoric and to (a) recommend improvements to the collaborative sport management processes specifically related to this particular case and (b) provide an analytical framework that will facilitate the application of this knowledge to others in similar interorganizational relationships. The purpose was achieved by collecting empirical evidence on the collaborative process through a theoretically guided case study of the relationship between Sport Canada and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), which were selected for the study due to their prominence in the Canadian sport system. Agency theory was chosen to provide the primary guiding framework for development of the research questions, and data collection and analysis. Data collection included three sources: my personal narrative, a selection of relevant documents, and personal interviews with thirteen key informants familiar with the two sport organizations. Data analysis was guided by the key concepts of agency theory to provide structure for the process. Consistent with the assumptions of agency theory, my findings indicated that the primary goals of Sport Canada and CIS are incongruent and that a managed contract is in place that includes financial incentives for CIS to collaborate with Sport Canada, but the incentives do not appear to work. Reporting and monitoring occur on an annual basis, but the relationship is essentially one of funding and accountability and not collaboration. The results of this research suggest that the current paradigmatic approach to understanding the Canadian sport system, based on the assumption that the federal government controls funding and national policy and thereby controls the sport system, is inappropriate and works directly against the espoused need for interorganizational collaboration. The opportunity for enhanced collaboration does exist, but intentional efforts to collaborate must be increased. The control paradigm should be rejected in favor of shared goal setting and decision-making and a negotiated contract between the organizations that identifies a measurable collaborative advantage. This research confirmed and explained the contribution that can be made by agency theory to the study and management of collaboration in sport organizations.
License granted by Ian Reade ( on 2010-01-11T17:20:55Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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