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Title: An analysis of the implementation of Clubmark and two associated policies in boxing, swimming and rugby union
Authors: Thurston, Alex J.
Keywords: Sport England
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: © Alex Thurston
Abstract: This study analysed the strategies of selected National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and voluntary sport clubs (VSCs) in the process of policy implementation of Sport England s generic Clubmark (a quality mark accreditation framework). Within the overarching Clubmark framework, other policies (safeguarding and increasing membership and/or participation) adopted by VSCs working towards the accreditation (or re-accreditation) standard were also examined. Policy-makers are predominantly centrally located, often a distance from the point of delivery where, it is argued; the environment is highly variable, pressured and political, often requiring negotiation and interpretation during the process of implementation. Traditionally, implementation analysis assumed two distinct approaches: top-down theorists (e.g. Hogwood & Gunn, 1984) suppose a perfect rational, systematic process as the starting point, with the focus placed on central policy-makers. The top-down theorists acknowledge that the ideal is unattainable but use the perspective to establish generalisable descriptive policy advice; in contrast, bottom-up theorists (e.g. Lipsky, 1980) argued that to gain a more realistic understanding of implementation the role of street-level bureaucrats (e.g. VSC members at the point of delivery) should be the focus for analysis and seek to offer prescriptive advice. More recently, a number of theorists have developed hybrid implementation models, which offered a synthesis of the two contrasting approaches, such as Matland's (1995) Ambiguity-Conflict model. The combination of these three approaches coupled with Kingdon's (1997) Multiple Streams framework, used to help organise and set a context for the understanding of implementation during analysis, established the theoretical framework that guided this study. The research adopted a qualitative approach using case studies for the three sports of boxing, swimming and rugby union. Data collection consisted of 29 semi-structured interviews from VSC members, NGB officials, a senior Sport England official and a County Sports Partnership officer. The interview data were combined with document analysis (from VSCs, NGBs and Sport England), which included policy documents, guidance templates, electronic communications and various website content. Two clubs from each sport were examined (one urban, one rural). VSC member selection was based on positions of authority within the committee who had some prior knowledge of Clubmark. Three to four NGB officials from each sport provided data for the top-down perspective of policy implementation. Analysis of the data revealed that policy implementation is not straightforward; NGBs had to be flexible with their strategies and be willing to modify criteria to deal with the varying nature and capacities of VSCs. Available NGB capacity to offer VSC support proved to be pivotal for implementation success in addition to the ability of the NGBs recognising the range of contextual constraints, which limited VSCs in the implementation process. At the club-level, motivation and willingness of VSC compliance for the three main policy strands varied across sports and clubs, which demonstrated how the role of the VSC members, as implementing agents, was fundamental in the policy process. At the NGB-level, the urgency or importance placed on the three policies and the variable capacity (to offer support) affected implementation. Application of the theoretical framework that guided the research proved effective in developing the understanding of implementation in this particular sport context. Furthermore, this research has provided a contribution to the literature by demonstrating how the complex and heterogeneous nature of VSCs affects the implementation process in community sport, which provides a useful point of reference for future comparative studies analysing NGBs and VSCs in different contexts.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/25521
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)

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