Abstract-Vol-2-Issue-1 Harri Jalonen

Responsible business through sport: a balance between pursuing esteem
and avoiding disesteem
Harri Jalonen
Turku University of Applied Sciences

Abstract: Sport elicits contradictory responses. On the one hand it is associated with many virtues such as positive health impacts, social interaction, cultural understanding and integration. Sport has been rather popular and widely used for various business purposes. Particular interest has been focused on the potentiality of sports to provide a platform for acts of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The argument is that through sport, companies can do good business by doing well. Sport holds significant media interest and coverage, offering global brands opportunities to address their stakeholders. At grass-roots level and within local communities, companies can do well for example by promoting sporting facilities for children and young people. However, on the other hand, recent years have witnessed that bad behaviour has gained a foothold within sport. Corruption and bribery, money laundering, match-fixing and doping have been regrettably common both in the cabinets and playing fields. Systematic and planned violations of law and/or codes of sport conduct have cast dark shadows on sport. Unsurprisingly, many businesses are nowadays reconsidering their investments in sport.

The paper holds the view that sport is still an appropriate and respectful way for companies to indicate their good citizenship. However, in order to bridge the gap between potentiality and actuality, the paper calls for new approaches to using sport as a vehicle for CSR. In doing that, the paper discusses business and sport relationship in the context of CSR through the lenses of esteem. The paper perceives esteem as parallel to, albeit imperfectly, the ordinary economy of material goods and services. It is expected that esteem is in the broad sense a commodity that is in limited supply and significant demand. When applied in the field of sport-related CSR, the pursuit of esteem forces both business and sport to reconsider their behaviour. Seen from the esteem perspective, improving an athlete’s performance by doping is not just a violation of the codes of sport conduct, but an act which creates disesteem. From the company’s perspective, the problem is that disesteem emerged from the behaviour of its ally can contaminate the company. Therefore, in the economy of esteem, the pursuit of good is not adequate. It must be reconciled with the avoidance of disesteem. The conceptual paper contributes particularly to the sport-related CSR literature by introducing and discussing the concepts of esteem and disesteem. The paper proposes managerial implications both for businesses and sport.

Keywords:corporate social responsibility, sport management, economy of esteem.









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