The mobilization of sport by the business world (programme launched in 2011)

Research led under the direction of Yan DALLA PRIA, with Nathalie LEROUX (MCF, from the University of Université Paris Nanterre, CeRSM) resulting in collaborations with the French Olympic and Sports National Committee (CNOSF) and the “Sport and social science” research team (E3S – ÉA 1342) from the University of Strasbourg.

Since the 1980s, sport has been mobilized by a growing number of public and private companies through diverse practises and uneven media coverage: sports sponsoring, outdoor courses, indoor seminars, use of sports metaphors in managerial talks, recruitment of top level sports- men and women, increased valuation of sports practice in recruitments, more gyms available, etc. This growing interest in sport is generally justified by its beneficial virtues (health, wellbeing at work, etc.) as well as the values that sport is meant to stand for. However, beside these ideologically neutral arguments, what meaning can we give to this connection between the professional spheres dedicated to work, and sports activities which seem to be essentially a matter of leisure? By extension, what practical articulation is there between the in situ sports offer and the managerial problems of the companies offering it?
Among other theoretical approaches used, the studies of the new American economic sociology (Granovetter, 1985 ; Burt, 1992) has made it possible to highlight the influence of sports communities on the circulation of information in the place of work (reduction of structural holes in particular). Moreover, it appears that sport inside the company contributes to reducing the contractual reality of the link between the employees and their company (founded on rationality and calculations) and develops community links based on peer grouping (emotion, friendliness, sharing, etc.) likely to give more meaning to work and thus regenerate incentive.
To this day, some fifty interviews have been led in ten companies. This empirical material has enabled us to list a first typology of sports practices within companies in order to shed light on the link between the choice of a specific practice on the one hand, and the profession, the time in life or the structure of the labour force in the said companies, on the other. These first results will be further developed in the coming months.

Updated on 17 décembre 2014