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How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy?

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par Eric Bailly
Staffordshire University (UK) - M.Sc. in European Management Strategy 2003

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3.1. Information required for the research

According to the objectives listed in part 2.5., the information required was important to find which stakeholders were considered important to the football clubs, what nature of power they had on the club, how did it affect the clubs' strategy, how did the clubs manage those stakeholders and if there were differences in managing stakeholders between important and less important clubs, also between French and English ones. It is essential to define an `important' football club. A football club is considered to be important by analysts and journalists if it has finished the league ranked in the five first teams for the past three (or four) years. So these teams are supposed to have more employees than others and to be better organised. A less important club was, for this study, a club which evolved in second division (Division One in England) but did not access to the elite or regress to a lower division for the last three or four years. This definition is relevant for both French and English leagues. This research had to take in account studies about football clubs' management made by universities (mostly from Liverpool and Leicester ones), articles in the specialized magazines (France Football and 442), reports on the football market (Mintel and Emerald) and football clubs' annual reports. This information gave an overview of the football business but nothing concrete on the stakeholders' management. The most important resources came from French and English football clubs themselves, so primary data had to come from interviews conducted with football clubs' managers. Then, Archer's model (1995) and Polonski's one (1995) were applied and adapted to the football sector, thanks to the data collected.

3.2. Research approach

3.2.1. Inductive or deductive approach?

According to Saunders (2002), the deductive approach needs a high quantity of quantitative data for the researcher to be able to generalise its results. So with this approach based on scientific principles, an important sample has to be used. This is the main reason

How stakeholders influence football clubs' strategy ? September 2003

why this approach was not used during this research. In fact, England has about ninety-six professional football clubs and in France only thirty-six exist. Taking in account that the average response rate for a questionnaire is rarely over ten percent, this research would have been based on eleven answers maximum. Everyone agree that this is not enough for an efficient research using the deductive approach. The inductive approach seemed more adapted to this study. Still according to Saunders (2002), this type of approach is based on qualitative data and a close understanding of the research context. The need to generalise the results is not compulsory. Concerning football clubs, it is difficult to understand the context and to answer the research question only with questionnaires. It is a complex and permanently changing sector where each club is managed its way and evolutes in a different environment. So, an inductive approach using qualitative data seemed the only way to understand football clubs'stakeholders' influence.

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