The Board of Directors of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) has awarded Maarten van Bottenburg with the Francqui Chair in 2017.

The Francqui Chair was established by the Francqui Foundation, which was started in 1932 to promote the further development of higher education and scientific research in Belgium. Annualy, the Francqui Foundation gives out two chairs to every Belgian university. These chairs make it possible to invite professors from other universities and ask them to organise a cycle of classes in their research areas.
Maarten will deliver his inaugural lecture on March 30th, 2017, from 4 to 6 in the afternoon in the Auditorium of the VUB. The title of his lecture is: Homo Ludens revisited: on the meaning of sport in contemporary culture. See for more information about the series of lectures that Maarten will give. The lectures will be in dutch.

Welcome to the 25th EASM Conference 2017 in Bern and Magglingen, Switzerland

The Institute of Sport Science of the University of Bern and the Swiss Federal Institute of Sport Magglingen are honored to host the 25th conference of the European Association for Sport Management (EASM), to be held in Bern and Magglingen. 
The organisers will promise to do their upmost to offer an interesting programme, establish network platforms to connect with colleagues and representatives from international sport organisations and companies as well as to provide opportunities to meet and make friends.

Registration for the 25th EASM conference and details of the programme are published on the official website
  • Different packages for Students, PhDs and Conference Participants available
  • Early Bird registrations closes on the 30th of June 2017

SPLISS is Invited as speaker for Symposia I: Management of High Performance

The Sporting Arms Race between nations investing more money in their elite sport system continues. Nations aim at increasing or at least securing their success at the Olympic Games in this competitive environment.
The symposia focuses on the following questions:
  • Which strategies do nations apply to increase their success at the Olympic Games?
  • Which role plays the National Sport Agency in the elite sport system?
  • How can you National Sport Agencies imply their strategies in their national system - Challenges and Best Practice
What How
Date Wednesday, 06.09.2017
Place University of Bern
Registration Open for participants of the 25th EASM Conference
Prices see homepage:
A. C. Weber (Swiss Federal Institute of Sports Magglingen SFISM) Dr. H. Kempf (Swiss Federal Institute of Sports Magglingen SFISM)
Speakers requested Prof. Dr. V. De Bosscher (Vrije Universiteit Brussels VUB)
M. Kojonkoski (Finnish Olympic Committee) Dr. J. Zheng (Hong Kong Baptist University)
Round Table Moderator: P. Minder Key Note Speakers
R. Stöckli (Swiss Olympic)
Time Content Speaker
10.30 – 11.00 Speaker I:
Sporting Arms Race – Learnings and Challenges for National Sport Agencies investing more money
Prof Dr. V. De Bosscher
11.00 – 11.30 Speaker II:
The Finnish Elite Sport System – Strategies and Challenges in the next Decade
11.30 – 12.00 Speaker III:
Chinese Success at the Olympic Games – A stra- tegic approach
Dr. J. Zheng
12.00 – 12.30 Round Table Discussion:
Sporting Arms Race – Learnings from theory and findings for praxis to increase Olympic success
P. Minder
Prof Dr. V. De Bosscher
M. Kojonkoski Dr. J. Zheng
R. Stöckli
Did you use SPLISS in your research and do you have a peer reviewed publication...?
...let us know, then we can disseminate your work!
Do you have a project where you use SPLISS, or do you know a researcher who uses SPLISS…?
...let us know, then we can get in touch!
A selection of SPLISS publications 2016
A Mixed Methods Approach to Compare Elite Sport Policies of Nations. A Critical Reflection on the Use of Composit Indicators in the SPLISS Study. Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics. Special issue: Research Methodologies and Sports Scholarship, editors James Skinner & Terry Engelberg, Griffith University.
Veerle De Bosscher
Journal of Global Sport Management, 1(3-4), 70-89. doi:10.1080/24704067.2016.1237203
Download (free copy, max 50):
This paper discusses the utility of mixed methods research in international comparative studies on elite sport policies and (quantitative) composite indicators (CIs) in particular. It illustrates how complex and large amounts of data in 15 nations have been objectified into easily understood formats, CIs. Using a nine Pillar model, data were collected through a research inventory and surveys completed by 3142 elite athletes, 1376 coaches and 241 performance directors. Ninety-six critical success factors and 750 sub-factors were aggregated into a CI. The paper shows how CIs are helpful in identifying a possible (non) relationship between elite sport policies and success, in facilitating interpretation and comparison, and in understanding differences and convergences in elite sport systems. However, there are a number of drawbacks, for example, understanding elite sport policies as part of a broader social, cultural and political context. Complementary qualitative analysis is necessary and has been used to interpret elite sport policies of nations.

An Analysis of Countries’ Organizational Resources, Capacities and Resource Configurations in Athletics.
Jasper Truyens, Veerle  De Bosscher, Popi Sotiriadou, Bruno Heyndels,
Journal of Sport Management.: 1-52, 30, 5 , 566-585.doi:
Research on elite sport policy tends to focus on the policy factors that can influence success. Even though policies drive the management of organizational resources, the organizational capacity of countries in specific sports to allocate resources remains unclear. This paper identifies and evaluates the organizational capacity of five sport systems in athletics (Belgium [separated into Flanders and Wallonia], Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands). Organizational capacity was evaluated using the organizational resources and first-order capabilities framework (Truyens, De Bosscher, Heyndels, & Westerbeek, 2014). Composite indicators and a configuration analysis were used to collect and analyze data from a questionnaire and documents. The participating sport systems demonstrate diverse resource configurations, especially in relation to program centralization, athlete development, and funding prioritization. The findings have implications for high performance managers’ and policy makers’ approach to strategic management and planning for organizational resources in elite sport.

Competitive Balance in Athletics
Truyens,J., De Bosscher, V., Heyndels, B. (2016)
Managing Sport and Leisure, ISNN: 2375-0472. 21(1), 23-43. doi:10.1080/23750472.2016.1169213
Download (free copy, max 50):
While most research on elite sport success focuses on sport policy factors or the explanatory powers of macro-level factors such as wealth and population, sporting success of countries is also determined by the competitive environment of a sport. This paper identified trends in competitive balance in athletics at world championships and Olympic Games between 2000 and 2015. Using Spearman rank correlations between multiple indicators of competitive balance and the passage of time, a systematic decrease in competitive balance was found for athletics in general, men’s and women’s competition. At discipline-specific level, divergent trends in competitive balance were identified. Based on top-8 point market shares, women’s sprint/hurdles, long-distance running and race walking became systematically more unbalanced, while the medal competition in men’s long-distance running became significantly more balanced. This study informs policy-makers on shifting opportunities for success caused by dynamic changes in the competition and the systematic reduction of competitive balance in specific disciplines.

Convergence and Divergence of Elite Sport Policies: Is There a One-Size-Fits-All Model to Develop International Sporting Success?
Veerle De Bosscher, Simon Shibli, Hans Westerbeek & Maarten van Bottenburg
Journal of Global Sport Management, 1-20. doi:10.1080/24704067.2016.1237203
Download (free copy, max 50)
This study is based on a detailed international comparison of the elite sport policies of 15 nations as part of the SPLISS (Sports Policy Factors Leading to International Sporting Success) study. It aims to provide deeper insights into the phenomena of convergence and divergence of elite sport policies. The research uses a mixed methods approach based on document reviews, interviews with high performance directors and surveys of 3142 athletes, 1376 coaches and 246 performance directors. There appears to be no generic blueprint for achieving international sporting success. Nations that perform well in international competition show varying patterns of relative strengths and weaknesses across nine pillars, 96 critical success factors, and 750 sub-factors. While the basic raw ingredients of the recipe might be common in broad terms, the combinations in which they are mixed are diverse. Much of this diversity appears to be driven by social, cultural and political factors.
KEYWORDS: Elite sport policyconvergencedivergencesuccessfactorsSPLISS

The role of inter-organizational relationships on elite athlete development: The case of tennis in Flanders.
Popi Sotiriadou, Jessie Brouwers, Veerle De Bosscher, Graham Cuskelly
Journal of Sport Management, 2016,
Previous studies acknowledge the importance of sporting organizations developing partnerships with clubs for athlete development purposes. However, there are no studies that address the way partnerships influence athlete progression and pathways. This study explores inter-organizational relationships (IORs) between a tennis federation and tennis clubs in their efforts to improve player development processes. Document analysis and semi-structured interviews with representatives from clubs and the Flemish federation were used. The findings show that the federation and the clubs engaged in IORs to achieve reciprocity and efficiency. The federation anticipated gaining legitimacy and asymmetry, and clubs expected to develop stability. Formal and informal control mechanisms facilitated IOR management. The conceptual model discussed in this study shows the types of IOR motives, management and control mechanisms that drive and influence the attraction, retention/transition, and nurturing (ARTN) processes of athlete development.

A multidimensional approach to evaluate the policy effectiveness of elite sport schools in Flanders.
Veerle Bosscher, Paul De Knop, Jikkemien Vertonghen
Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, p 1596-1621
The increasing demands of elite sports make it difficult for talented young athletes to balance school and sport. This paper investigates the multi-dimensional policy effectiveness of elite sport schools (ESSs) in secondary education in Flanders. Four hundred and eight elite athletes who graduated from an ESS, and 341 from mainstream schools, completed an online survey. The data showed no clear evidence of more effective outputs (performance), or more positive evaluation of throughputs (processes) by athletes who attended an ESS. Athletes who did not attend an ESS received less support services, but those who did receive such services were generally more satisfied. They were equally satisfied about their coaches’ expertise. Only training facilities were rated generally better in an ESS. The study concluded that evaluating effectiveness of ESS (at input-throughput-output level) requires a tailor-made, sport-specific approach. Furthermore, as ESS is only a small part of a total career, many other factors influence long-term success.
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