READING GUIDE TO: Casey, M., Payne, W. and Eime, R.(2009) 'Building the health promotion capacity of sport and recreation organisations: A case study of Regional Sports Assemblies', Managing Leisure, 14: 2, 112 — 124

[I found out right at the end that this is an evaluation funded by the State of Victoria who also funded the programme. It is very bland and official and this could be why?]


This is an evaluation of an Australian statewide health promotion strategy in nine regional sports assemblies (RSAs), using a web survey [of policies by the looks of things] and interviews with 4 CEOs.  The strategy was to address physical inactivity, through developing a number of initiatives especially cross sector partnerships.  Sport and recreation facilities have a lot of potential here.  Victoria has been pursuing a number of health sponsorship policies like banning smoking, and increasing sun protection.  They saw a need to develop supportive environments rather just change individuals though.  An example of good practice is Sport Canada, apparently, although it has also become bureaucratised and there are some examples of organisations just conforming on paper.  What is needed is research on the change process.  One model of change involves four stages [same old same old], awareness raising, planning, implementation, institutionalisation (113).  Other change models have also been considered.  What the team are interested in is the change from an emphasis on competitive sport to one based on community based for health promotion.


There are nine RSAs in Victoria.  These are state funded and act in a similar way to the UK County Sports Partnerships.  They offer advice to clubs, promote coaching, and manage official accreditation.  They have become interested in partnerships to develop health promotion leading to an attempt to establish links between sports clubs and other public organisations.  There have been a number of pilot schemes, and an agreement to target particular groups which include various minorities and indigenous women.  The idea is to begin with capacity building and then to move on to organisational change.  Capacity building involves the development of specific organisations, workforces, leadership and partnerships.  Organisational change was conceived as following the four stages above.  The web based survey and the interviews were conducted over time.  The four RSAs were sampled for various reasons from the nine.  They also analysed strategic plans as documents [claiming this is triangulation].  The interviews, coding themes and the concepts selected from the text were based on the four stage model.


The results showed:

(A)  The strategic plans do show a change  towards a focusing on participation and health promotion [the themes are summarised in a table page 116].  Certain performance indicators have been developed to focus on health promotion [based on these early notions of capacity building outlined above].

(B)  Referring to the four stages of change:

(1) awareness was studied through interviewers coding interviews and the existence of health promotion programmes [all pretty official so far]:

(2) adoption—here there was some evidence the new policy was made to fit existing priorities, such as widening access [not really commented on any further], policies on change were made more attractive by the prospect of additional funding.  One CEO marginalised the new promotion policy for a while, but others saw it as an important new priority.  Some said they lacked information, an important source of resistance to change, the authors claim.  Some new relationships were formed with governing boards;

(3) implementation was made easier through extended funding.  Funders specified five areas of development, and the RSAs showed positive improvements in all five [rather vague staff here, based on official information about new focuses and improvement].  The areas for development included building the community profile which was a gap in provision—for example there was no systematic monitoring of community needs.  There also problems with high staff turnover without adequate transition arrangements, and no provision for sustainability after the specific change funds had dried up;

(4) institutionalisation [reported through very dull stuff such as change to representations on the committees of other organisations] there were fewer resources, however and no capacity to fundraise.  The table on page 120 reports these rather dull results, and we have no details about how they were coded or analysed.  The table contains very vague and uncritical statements such as reporting the ‘development...  of synergies between sport and health—a lot’


The overall claim was that there was transformation and that some useful partnerships were established, but that everything depended on funding from the state of Victoria.  Some groups were identified in the analysis of capacity building, especially the need to contact communities.  More research is needed on organisations’ willingness to change [with the usual management stuff about the need for leadership].  Organisations need to be more active, and to pursue open-ended funding [fat chance of that these days] and they need to share goals with their partners.  The RSAs were not active enough in this case.  It was noted that the new policies did fit some of their existing goals anyway [so is this a deliberate change strategy or is it a comment on ritualism?].  Other organisations need to be compared.  Maybe the the point should not be about adopting principles alone [welcome to the real world!].


This is an important area showing the need for support from local states.  However, funders need to understand organisational barriers, including the crucial need to contact communities, and to give a proper account of change.


[Overall, very sketchy research, and pretty well uncritical, as you might expect from funded work.  Despite the core to understand organisations’, there is no real critical perspective deployed here, nothing like micropolitics, or even the work on organisations by Houlihan.  There are a few hints about ritualism and problems contacting ‘community’, but these are old hat.  How did this get published as an academic article? Oh OK , it's a managment journal]

key concepts