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SM-Veckan - A Study of Event-innovation in Swedish Sport
Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Sport Sciences (IDV).
2023 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Aim and Research Questions:

This study analyses the development of “SM-veckan” [: “the Swedish national championship week”], a sport event where several sport federations since 2009 have staged their national championships together.

The analysis has three steps: 1) identifying the main stakeholders of SM-veckan, 2) describing how they perceive SM-veckan and 3) analysing how the perceptions influence the event’s development.

The study aims at understanding how national federations can increase their popularity by rethinking their national championships and how host cities can support (and make use of) such “event innovations”.

Theoretical Background and Literature Review

Recently, a branch of research on non-mega sport events has developed and recently also considered the role of innovation with a focus on the refinement of existing events (Hoff et al., 2022; Taks, 2016). In contrast, this paper studies the development of a wholly new event albeit based on traditional national championships.

Theoretically, the paper draws on the classical understanding of innovation as ‘creative destruction’ with long-term consequences and the more recent idea of innovation as a “creative” process aimed at rather immediate “qualitative change” for several beneficiaries(Tjønndal, 2017, pp. 293, 302). The theory's focus on event innovation and (social) outcome in a broad sense is further reflected in the study's sorting of stakeholders according to their organisational (e.g. interest in a well-organised events) and social (e.g. interest in social impacts) commitments (Ferrand & Skirstad, 2015).

Research Design, Methodology and Data Analysis

The main part of the data stems from documents from and semistructured interviews with representatives from the three most recent host cities and three sports (swimming, canoeing and padel). The documents have been collected. The interviews will be recorded and analysed in time for the presentation at the conference. The analysis also includes newspaper coverage of SM-veckan since 2009 to indicate the public perception of the event and serve as a background for the interviews.

The analysis of the material happened in three steps (Jones, 2014, Chapter 14).

  1. Extracting information related to the formal organisation of the event and main stakeholders.
  2. Coding data related to the perception of the sports and host cities.
  3. Forming codes into themes and discuss them theoretically

Results/Findings and Discussion **  

The preliminary analysis shows that the main stakeholders of the event consist of a core group with a stable member base, and a temporary stakeholder group, which changes after each event. Considering their social and organisational commitments, however adds further nuances.

The Swedish Sport Confederation (Riksidrottsförbundet) and the Swedish national public broadcaster (SVT) are core members and seems mainly highly organisational commited. Especially the broadcaster wishes to streamline the event e.g. by priotising the most popular sports. The sports confederation wants a stream-lined event too. In order to pull off both a winter and a summer edition annually, the confederation must work efficiently.

Among the temporary stakeholders, the host cities are both socially and organisationally engaged as organisers with an outspoken interest in offering something spectacular to the locals. The other temporary group, the sport federations, is mainly organisational engaged. They often focus on learning and organising the competition rather than social outcomes - if allowed to participate at all. The participation of a sport depends on the will of the core stakeholders, existing infrastructure and the interest of the host. Yet, there seems to be a general interest from the sport federations in participating in the events.

Conclusion, Contribution, and Implication **

From an innovation theoretical perspective, SM-veckan seems established as an event considering several beneficiaries, while the preliminary results also indicate that the process has potential costs and entails creative as well as destructive processes.

The analysis shows that the main stakeholders of SM-veckan are all engaged albeit in different ways and to different degrees. The core stakeholders, the Swedish national public broadcaster and the Swedish sport confederation together with the host cities are defining for the continued development of SM-veckan as a popular event. Although the host cities are temporary stakeholders, their capacities and interests are taken very much into account, if not even taking the lead, when developing the event especially with regard to the social outcomes. The influence of the sport federations, the other temporary stakeholder, seems limited both in terms of organisation and socially.

The study has at least two implications:

  1. Regarding theory on event innovation: The original innovation was to combine several the national championships but the recent focus seems to be on making the event appealing. How should we understand this change? Is the later focus a series of new innovations or refinements of the original (cf. Schumpeter's idea that innovations should be analysed in a long-term perspective)?
  2. Regarding practical implications: Sport confederations seem to organise combined national tournaments to increase the attention around small sports. It appeals to the sport federations in Sweden and is potentially useful in other areas.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
EASM , 2023.
Keywords [en]
sport events, SM-veckan, Sweden, history, innovation, development
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-63702OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-63702DiVA, id: diva2:1811787
Conference
EASM2023, 31st European Association for Sport Management Conference, September 12-15, 2023, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Funder
Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports, FO2023-59Available from: 2023-11-14 Created: 2023-11-14 Last updated: 2023-11-22Bibliographically approved

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Jensen, Christian Tolstrup

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