Modifying Tradition: Understanding Organizational Change in Chinese Elite Sport Training at the Grassroots Level
- What are the impetuses for changing from an old template to a new template?
- What are the factors that moderate the change process?
2. Elite Sport Training in China and an Integrative Model of Organizational Change in Sport
2.1. Institutional Analyses on Chinese Elite Sport Training
2.2. Chinese Elite Sport Training, Social Forces, and Commercialization
2.3. Theoretical Framework: An Integrative Model of Organizational Change in Sport
2.3.1. Political, Functional, and Social Pressures
2.3.2. Moderating Factors
2.3.3. Value Commitments
2.3.4. Late-Stage Moderating Factors
3. Research Methods
3.1. Research Design
3.2. Case Context: The YSTSS in Yangpu District
3.3. Participants and Data Collection
3.4. Data Analysis and Trustworthiness
4.1. Internal and External Political Pressures
“Before the involvement of the social forces, our athletes admitted a lack of motivation and a feeling of sloth. Negatively influenced by the One-Child Policy, they, including the students from outside provinces, were largely spoiled by their parents and grandparents. The majority of the time, I had to make a phone call to their parents, kind of pleading with them again and again to bring their children here for three hours of training after school. I have no choice since my monthly salary and annual bonus are closely related to the performance of the athletes that I train. By convention, an internal selection is held to choose the athletes who are eligible to participate in the municipal competition on behalf of the Yangpu YSTSS. As far as I am concerned, this internal selection is meaningless”.(Interviewee E).
“In seeking to cope with the acute structural imbalance between sporting goods manufacturing and the sport service sector, policy No. 46 (Promotion Guidelines) encourages the numerous social forces to set up and run sport clubs. We insist that there is no conflict between developing the sport service industry and elite sport training. These two are not mutually exclusive. Instead, we uphold that, broadly, elite sport training and the sport service industry could be well aligned. We require the YSYSS in every district to allow the registration of social sport clubs. If social sport clubs identify young hopefuls during their daily operation, they can provide them to the YSYSS in the corresponding district and further broaden the talent pool, which is vital for the construction of sport power”.(Interviewee J).
“Compared to the old times, we are carrying much more burdens on our heads. Currently, the actual expenditures on catering for the athletes are almost 10 times greater than before. The travelling costs are even approximately 50 times. This does not mean we are prepared to cut down the financial investment in elite sport training. This situation will definitely not happen in the foreseeable future. What we really need is to make full use of the social forces”.(Interviewee B).
4.2. Functional and Social Pressures
“The YSTSS in Yangpu district has constantly suffered from a reserve shortage of equestrian and golf talents. However, one fact that cannot be ignored is that an increasing number of equestrian and golf clubs operated by social forces have emerged in Shanghai. The only technically feasible way for the Yangpu YSTSS to address this functional defect is to absorb the young hopefuls who were trained at the equestrian and golf clubs run by social forces. In contrast, social forces are always eager to be recognized as “legitimized” members of the YSTSS capable of participating in municipal competitions on behalf of the YSTSS. If they are strong enough, the gold medals they earn will bring them a good training reputation”.(Interviewee A).
“For example, the rock climbing, the YSTSS in Yangpu district deliberately proposed a strategy that encourages wrestling athletes to train in rock climbing in the meantime. However, the effectiveness of this countermeasure is always in doubt. Our organizational goal is to provide young talent to the upper level. Indeed, we are faced with pressure to broaden the talent pool of newly added Olympic sports/disciplines”.(Interviewee F).
“Sometimes, we feel embarrassed when encountering the discussion of whether China is a major sports country or a world sports power. It is evident that the public is currently highly concerned about the quality of gold medals. For example, the public is very satisfied with the performance of women’s volleyball. Indeed, what we can do is try to extend the talent pool of internationally influential sports/disciplines as far as we can. Under these circumstances, the numerous sport clubs run by social forces are warmly welcomed to register with the Yangpu YSTSS”.(Interviewee D).
4.3. Moderating Factors Aiding the Change
“Within the Chinese economic landscape and in the setting of economic prosperity, the involvement of social forces did not jeopardize our economic growth and instead was perceived as an effective approach to ensure political stability for preventing massive unemployment and labor unrest. Returning to the elite sport training domain, we are confident that the involvement of social forces in grassroots sport training is trouble-free”.(Interviewee I).
“To be honest, for our Yangpu YSTSS, sometimes we are nervous that we cannot recruit the strongest social sport club. You may think if the social sports clubs are located in Yangpu district, they must register with our Yangpu YSTSS. No, you are wrong! There is no limit; they could complete the registration procedure in the Changning, Minhang, Jiading districts as they like”.(Interviewee D).
“We are absolutely eager to complete the registration procedure in the YSTSS in Yangpu district. This practice signals that we are eventually recognized by the governmental agency and we are part of their plan, their blueprint for the future of elite sport training. The direct benefit of registration for us is that we could obtain opportunities to compete on behalf of the Yangpu YSTSS. If we are lucky enough, one gold medal earned by an athlete who was trained in our club is the best advertisement”.(Interviewee K).
“It is understandable that parents always try to find a reliable training organization for their kids. Undoubtedly, a gold medal strongly signals that we are reliable and effective, and we can provide the best training as the gold medal winner received it before. Anyway, we are eager to help the Yangpu YSYSS make the change”.(Interviewee M).
4.4. Reformative Commitment and the Late-Stage Moderating Factor
“Compared to the sport clubs run by social forces, we do have a competitive advantage; for instance, we are free of charge and even offer lunch and dinner, which are also free. By contrast, the sport clubs outside are profit-driven. They always in pursuit of profits and charge the parents a lot annually”.(Interviewee G).
“For most parents, the greatest concern is about potential sporting injuries. Here, in the Yangpu YSTSS, we can provide the most experienced doctor who guarantees the best treatment of athletes if any injuries occur”.(Interviewee D).
“It is relatively easy for us to implement the transition. The registration procedure costs nothing. It is always convenient to invite the best athletes from social sport clubs to participate in our internal selection”.(Interviewee D).
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|A||Shanghai University||Professor of Sport Management Studies, one of the most renowned sports researchers in mainland PRC|
|B||Shanghai Sport University||Professor of Sport Studies with expertise in elite sport training in Shanghai|
|C||Suzhou University||Professor of Sport Studies with expertise in elite sport training in the Yangtze River Delta|
|D||YSTSS in Yangpu District||Director of the training department|
|E||YSTSS in Yangpu District||A senior coach who has served the Shanghai Team for more than 10 years|
|F||YSTSS in Yangpu District||A coach who has served the YSTSS for more than 5 years (female)|
|G||YSTSS in Yangpu District||A senior coach who has served the YSTSS for more than 10 years|
|H||SAS||Head of the youth training department|
|I||Sports Bureau of Yangpu District||Deputy director responsible for Yangpu elite sport training|
|J||SAS||Deputy director responsible for elite sport training|
|K||Social sport club registered with the Yangpu YSTSS||Club owner|
|L||Social sport club registered with the Yangpu YSTSS||Club owner|
|M||Social sport club registered with the Yangpu YSTSS||Club owner|
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Ma, Y.; Kurscheidt, M. Modifying Tradition: Understanding Organizational Change in Chinese Elite Sport Training at the Grassroots Level. Sustainability 2021, 13, 4048. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13074048
Ma Y, Kurscheidt M. Modifying Tradition: Understanding Organizational Change in Chinese Elite Sport Training at the Grassroots Level. Sustainability. 2021; 13(7):4048. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13074048Chicago/Turabian Style
Ma, Yang, and Markus Kurscheidt. 2021. "Modifying Tradition: Understanding Organizational Change in Chinese Elite Sport Training at the Grassroots Level" Sustainability 13, no. 7: 4048. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13074048