The Work That People Do: Exploring Implementation Progress Within a Sports Management Context

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Fitzgerald, Janna

Cuskelly, Graham

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Gould, Ryan

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The transfer of research findings into practice has been unpredictable, haphazard and slow. Organisations often fail to fully implement the policies they aim to adopt. This is not necessarily due to any failure of the policy itself, but more likely a failure of the implementation process. This research employed multimethods to examine the barriers to, and facilitators of, routinisation of an intervention into everyday practice and progressed to exploring the likelihood of implementation success by utilising normalization process theory (NPT) measures. A review of the literature indicates that implementation frameworks and dissemination techniques have been poorly described and understood, and lack theoretical justification. Furthermore, little is known within the literature about practice theories and the wider social organisation, that is, the interaction between human agency and social structure and how individual agents normalise new routines. The results of a scoping review of the literature led to exploring the utility of NPT, a sociological midrange theory that helps to explain social processes when implementing policy. The use of a scoping review of extant meta-frameworks within the implementation science literature identified key implementation strategies that promote progress of implementation. The findings of the review complement those of earlier studies in that identifying a clear demarcation between barriers and facilitators of implementation is difficult. Aligning the strategies, identified in the scoping review with the constructs of NPT, revealed a lack of detail in explaining the social processes required for successful implementation to progress implementation. Therefore, the need to further develop our understanding of the social processes through which policies become embedded within everyday practice is justified. In this thesis, NPT is used in a novel context, that of implementing a program known as the Junior Football Match Guide (JFMG) within the Australian Football League (AFL) organisation. A multimethod approach was undertaken. First, qualitative interviews were conducted with key informants from national, state, and league administrative levels of the AFL. Second, a survey questionnaire was distributed to all members of the AFL through the official online AFL website. The questionnaire, known as the Normalization Measure and Development (NoMAD) tool, was modified for the sports context. NoMAD was developed by colleagues in the United Kingdom and derived from NPT, with the aim of exploring the likelihood of implementation progress and focusing on those who do the implementation work. The findings highlighted to sports managers potential areas for enhancing implementation progress. These findings have extended the development of the NoMAD instrument internationally. This research indicates that implementation is not a linear process, and the barriers and facilitators to implementation are not as clearly demarcated as the literature suggests. The key implementation strategies identified within this research, developed to overcome barriers and facilitators, are mostly prescriptive and lack detail in explaining the social action required to routinise policy. The utility of NPT in progressing implementation has been examined by critically assessing the barriers and facilitators of routinisation of a policy into everyday practice within the sports management context. The implications of this study suggest that to progress implementation, added focus on the social organisation of those who do the work of implementing policy is required by sports managers and implementation leaders.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Dept Intnl Bus&Asian Studies

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Sports management

Sports ethics

Cognitive participatioin

Collective action

Reflexive monitoring

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