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The Role of Social Responsibility, Philanthropy and Entrepreneurship in the Sport Industry

This introduction to the special issue of the Journal of Management & Organization on social responsibility, philanthropy and entrepreneurship in the sport industry frames the key issues sport businesses, corporate partners, and related nonprofit t organizations grapple with to ensure that both the organizations and the social causes which are being addressed benefit in some way. The importance of social responsibility is first examined in the context of corporations and sports. The increasing importance of social issues to sport-related industries and the role of strategic philanthropy is discussed. Next, the connection between social responsibility and philanthropic endeavors is addressed in terms of social entrepreneurship. Finally, the article concludes by highlighting the increased significance of sport in society and how the articles in this special issue contribute to a better understanding of the role of social responsibility, philanthropy and entrepreneurship in sport.

The aim of this special issue is to improve the understanding of social responsibility, philanthropy and entrepreneurship within a sport context. Consistent with the objectives of the Journal of Management & Organization, both conceptual and empirical papers on how social responsibility, philanthropy and entrepreneurship affect the sport industry are discussed. Papers included in this special issue are from international authors and highlight the worldwide significance and importance of social responsibility, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship in the sports context. Sport is an important vehicle for venturing beyond profit goals into social responsibility, philanthropy and entrepreneurship. We view the matter of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in sport in three ways which contributes to the unique opportunities and differences in CSR in sport:

a) CSR being enacted by sport organizations (i.e., sport businesses such as professional sport teams/leagues who carry out socially responsible initiatives in communities in which they operate, or charitable foundations and efforts initiated by these sport businesses);
b) The second perspective on CSR is sport organizations being the ‘recipient’ and vehicle of corporate CSR (e.g., corporations partnering with sport organizations as part of their CSR – e.g., corporate donations to worthy sport causes, sponsorship, or cause related marketing; cf., Smith & Westerbeek, 2007);
c) Finally sport organizations whose focal mission is social impact or development (e.g., community, national or international sport organizations such as Right to Play, Athletes for Hope, the Sports Philanthropy Project). The articles in this special issue encompass each of these three dimensions of social responsibility.


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