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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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3.2.2. Research philosophy

Concerning the philosophy used for this research the choice has not been made between the `traditional' positivism and phenomenology. In fact, those two approaches did not meet the requirements of this study. Positivism, although it would have been helpful to test Polonsky's model (1995), needs large samples, which like the deductive approach, is not possible with football clubs because they are not numerous enough. Phenomenology implies that the researcher is involved and generates theories. Although an adaptation of Polonsky (1995) and Archer's (1995) models was made by the author, this approach is not adapted to this study requirement. Another approach is called `realism' and was used for this study (Easterby-Smith and al., 2001). Realism is a way to conduct an analysis based on facts. This approach was more adapted to this research which happened in a changing environment. To base this study on economical reality of professional football clubs was the most reliable way to conduct this research. To test the three models presented in the second part of this research, evidences had to be found in the economic reality, that's why a case study approach was used.

3.2.3. A case study approach

According to Yin (1994), the case study approach is useful to investigate a modern phenomenon in its real context. This definition corresponds to this research, which aim was to study how football clubs managed stakeholders. To study few football clubs was the best option. The author did not have time enough to study every single football club. As football clubs are very different, to study only one case would not have been pertinent for the research. As said in part 3.1., it was interesting to analyse the management of important and less important football clubs, as well as English and French ones. Thanks to the data gathered, it was possible to design a close-to-reality stakeholders' mapping. Archer's model (1995) needed current data, as stakeholders' position and influence evolutes in time. Polonsky's model (1995) is less affected by time; nevertheless it has to be adapted depending on football clubs' reality. All cases were studied similarly. The same methods were used to analyse each type of club, which was the only way to highlight differences between clubs' category (cf. research protocol part 3.5.1.). A multi-method approach was used for this study, analysing statistics, financial, legal and social data. The use different type of data was required to have an overview of all stakeholders' management. Data from football clubs were comparable because, whether in France or England, clubs are into the same business type (e.g. accounts includes players transfer, high salary...). Moreover, Europeanization of the football business is increasing (e.g. creation of the interests group called G14).

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