The need to apply new theories to “Sport CSR”

Roger Levermore ·  Neil Moore 
Abstract: Purpose – This paper aims to highlight how critical theory and political CSR might be applied to deepen our examination of the complexities associated with ‘sport CSR’. The debate on the use of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the sports industry is starting to move beyond “mapping the territory”, which characterized the initial examination of this new direction in CSR. This viewpoint suggests that it is time for “sport CSR” to turn to a range of CSR perspectives found in mainstream management debates as they are under-applied at the moment. Design/methodology/approach – This paper examines the current state of research in sport CSR and offers a discussion on the possible ways to apply two under-utilised mainstream perspectives – political CSR and critical CSR – to sport CSR. Findings – A review of literature highlights how sport CSR has tended to pay insufficient attention to the maladies, dilemmas and broader structural concerns and political ramifications associated with sport CSR. This means that other viewpoints noted and applied in this journal, such as “critical CSR” and political CSR are largely neglected. Originality/value – The value of this article lies in highlighting how critical theory and political CSR might be applied to deepen our examination of the complexities associated with “sport CSR”. 

English professional football clubs: Can business parameters of small and medium-sized enterprises be applied?

Neil Moore ·  Roger Levermore 
Abstract: Purpose – In the last two decades sports studies and sports management journals have called for there to be research in sports management that explores sports links to mainstream management analyses. The purpose of this paper is to argue that in many ways the sports sector is dominated by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which have a different dynamic to larger entities and therefore should be analysed accordingly. This paper applies an SME perspective on English professional football clubs. Design/methodology/approach – This paper, drawn from 22 semi‐structured interviews with key individuals in the English professional football (soccer) industry, employs an interpretivist approach of semi‐structured interviews of key personnel to provide an account of the business practices prevalent in the English football industry. Findings – The findings are as follows: that the sports industry can be regarded as one that is largely constituted of elements that are ascribed with characteristics associated with SMEs called archetypal SMEs, either in entity size, turnover or mentality; that much analysis of the administration and management of the sports industry fails to assess the sector through the prism of SME “modelling”; there are areas of engagement with SME literature that could be useful to the analysis of the management of the sports industry. Originality/value – This paper does what few other papers have achieved by outlining that the sports industry can be effectively examined by applying “SME perspectives” to help explain what might appear to be their idiosyncratic characteristics. 

Reassessing sport-for-development: Moving beyond 'mapping the territory'

Roger Levermore ·  Aaron Beacom 
Abstract: Over the past decade, as the efficacy of many development interventions was being challenged, sports-based development initiatives appeared to offer alternative conduits for addressing health, education and other developmental concerns. We have, over the past 5 years, contributed to an emerging body of literature, which has explored the rationale, structure and delivery frameworks underpinning this so-called sport-for-development movement. Commenting on the literature, Lindsey and Grattan are critical of the overt focus on ‘Northern’ actors engaged with sport-for-development programmes and postulate a ‘decentred’ approach (that encompasses a more nuanced understanding of ‘Southern voices’) thus broadening our comprehension of the development process. This article constitutes our response to Lindsey and Grattan's contentions, while also taking into account Darnell and Hayhurst's rejoinder, which advocates a refocusing on the global hegemony of key development actors and a critical analysis of Northern-led development initiatives. We argue that both papers make valuable contributions, promoting the theorizing of sport-for-development discourse through what are in many respects, methodologically rigorous complementary perspectives. Having examined the contribution of these two papers, we consider key issues that are likely to characterize the future trajectory of sport-for-development discourse thus taking the debate beyond ‘mapping the territory’. These issues include the power relations in sport-for-development; the evolving contribution of sports INGOs as key actors in sport-for-development; and the challenge of evaluating development processes. This article highlights the importance of engaging with the established mainstream development discourse that provides an extensive body of theory through which to construct a critical assessment of sport-for-development. This is evident, for example, in contending theories relating to the process of evaluating the impact of development interventions. This article concludes by highlighting the importance of listening to the voices of all stakeholders involved in the sport-for-development process if the significance of such interventions is to be fully understood. 

Sport-for-Development and the 2010 Football World Cup

Roger Levermore 
Abstract: Sport – as both a grassroots and elite movement – has long been used in various capacities to assist in the ‘development process’ especially in lower income countries. For example, sport is believed to display traits that assist in the education process, highlight health awareness issues, unify diverse communities and promote gender equality. Young people are the principal beneficiaries as sport is viewed as a particularly alluring vehicle to this generation. However, the relationship... 

Evaluating sport-for-development Approaches and critical issues

Roger Levermore 
Abstract: This is the second in a series of three articles that considers the relationship between sport and furthering international development assistance. The first highlighted a significant growth in this relationship, yet evaluation of sport-for-development was criticized for being insufficient. This article therefore details the current level of evaluation of sport-for-development and highlights the approaches used whilst contextualizing it against the evaluation debate in development studies....

The Paucity of, and Dilemma in, Evaluating Corporate Social Responsibility for Development through Sport

Roger Levermore 
Abstract: Corporate social responsibility (csr) and sport—often in combination with each other—are being increasingly voiced as vehicles that assist various forms of social and economic development, particularly in years with mega-sporting events like the 2010 football World Cup. However, there is little evidence of evaluation to demonstrate that csr-for-development or sport-for-development works (especially over time). This article examines the extent to which evaluation of csr for development through sport has been undertaken, with specific reference to the 2010 World Cup—an event portrayed as displaying developmental virtues. The research highlights not only a paucity of evaluation for csr for development in general and csr for development through sport in particular (as discussion on evaluation largely revolves around financial performance, often from the perspective of the corporation) but also a dilemma: when prevailing techniques of evaluation of mainstream development are conducted, a concern is raised that the techniques implemented are overly managerial or one-dimensional, representing a crass tick-box mentality that fails to address the contextual environment in which development is delivered and steeped in unequal power relations. As a result, the critical development perspective can point to a further element that highlights the paucity and inherent problems of csr for development. 

CSR for Development Through Sport: examining its potential and limitations

Roger Levermore 
Abstract: Recent publications have highlighted the growth of sport as a vehicle in deploying corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes or for disseminating international development initiatives. However, very little has been written on the considerable increase of the use of sport with corporate social responsibility to further social and economic development. This will expand as a range of CSR for development initiatives are being launched to coincide with mega-sports events in the coming years, starting with the 2010 football World Cup. This article addresses this gap by charting the ways in which sport is being used by businesses (ranging from multinational corporations to sports federations) as part of discrete development initiatives. It highlights the opportunities (notably developing partnerships and reaching those alienated from traditional development) and limitations associated with this. Limitations form around Stefano Ponte et al's typology of CSR initiatives, which is used to highlight the fact that many projects are poorly linked to core business objectives and are therefore less likely to be taken seriously and succeed. A lack of evaluation and the tarnished reputation of sport are other problems associated with CSR for development through sport. 

Chapter:  Sport and Development: Mapping the Field

Roger Levermore ·  Aaron Beacom 
Abstract: The last decade, and especially since the UN declared 2005 to be its International Year of Sport and Physical Education, has seen a significant expansion in the use of sport (broadly defined) as a tool for initiating social change. Projects involving sport have included attempts to educate young people to appreciate health concerns (such as the dangers of HIV and malaria), engender respect for local communities, discourage anti-social and criminal behaviour, increase gender-awareness, as well as assist with the rehabilitation of people with disabilities and the reconciliation of communities in conflict. 
Chapter · Jan 2009 

Chapter:  Opportunities, Limitations, Questions

Roger Levermore ·  Aaron Beacom 
Abstract: Sport-in-development is in its formative years. The use of sport as a development tool reflects efforts to broaden the activities of the development process. This increased usage of a range of sports in a number of development contexts is due to a combination of factors, including the need to find new ways to facilitate and promote developmental goals, especially to areas/communities affected by well documented concerns over the effectiveness of the state (and other mainstream actors) to improve conditions for their citizens (as discussed by Levermore in Chapter 2). The appeal of sport to reach communities, particularly young people, largely excluded from substantive traditional development activity is an argument put forward by many advocates of sport-in-development. For example, Nelson Mandela is frequently referenced as saying: Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down barriers. It laughs in the face of discrimination (quoted for instance by The Guardian, 2004 and Sporting Equals, undated). 

Chapter:  Sport-in-International Development: Theoretical Frameworks

Roger Levermore 
Abstract: The academic field of international development is characterized by often intense debates between competing perspectives which influence debate and therefore strategy and policy in the international development policy-making field (Hettne, 1995).2 For example, Rostow (1960) was both a leading modernization theorist and senior administrator in post 1945 US administrations. Likewise, neo-liberal theorists and strategists significantly influence the work of major development agencies such as the World Bank and governments in some high income countries. This is an important point to note for those operating in, or assessing, sport-in-development because they occasionally need to engage with these debates in order to better understand how sport-in-development might be perceived, especially in highlighting its potential weaknesses and limitations. Chapter · Jan 2009 

Article:  Sport: A new engine of development?

Roger Levermore 
Abstract: In an era when traditional engines – or suppliers – of development are being increasingly criticized, sport is being seen by some as a vehicle that can reach communities with messages in a way that politicians, multilateral agencies and NGOs cannot. The list of development-through-sport initiatives is impressive, spanning many aspects of international development, from national development strategies to HIV/AIDS awareness. Those that favour the use of sport in such a manner are quick to point out its qualities. However, the traditional field of development is taking longer to warm to the idea that sport might be an engine that drives development initiatives forward. This paper, the first of three, begins by outlining some of the ways that sport is being used for development. It concludes by noting that these schemes receive insufficient evaluation. The following two papers discuss how these initiatives might be evaluated, and share the results of the evaluation process. 

Article:  Official policies and informal transversal networks: Creating ‘pan‐European identifications’ through sport?

Roger Levermore ·  Peter Millward 
Abstract: The idea that sport has been drawn into helping build a collective identity around the nation-state, particularly in the immediate ‘era of independence’ after 1945, is well documented. However, it is only recently that sport has been linked to notions of moulding what we term here as ‘pan-European identifications’. It is our argument that there are two distinctive forms to such identification. The first posits a tangible notion of identity based around territories such as nation-states. Sport assists in this process through ‘official’ policies, such as declarations, reports and statements by the European Commission and other pan-European institutions. The second form recognizes that increasing transversal interactions weakens ideas of territorialized identity, resulting in a looser ‘sense of belonging’. Sport helps craft identifications here in an informal manner through pan-European sporting competitions, such as the UEFA Champions League and 2004 European football championships. This article is structured to look at both forms of this sport/identification interface whilst also considering the complex nature of sport and identity by explaining how sport can simultaneously erode such identifications. 
Article · Jan 2007 · Sociological Review


The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Department of Management, Associate Professor of Business Education, March 2015 - present, Senior Lecturer, July 2014 - present, Visiting Associate Professor, July, 2012 - July, 2014.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, School of Business and Management, Associate Director of MBA Program, July 2014 - present, Interim Director of MBA Programs, July, 2012 - July 2013.

University of Liverpool (Management School), Lecturer in International Development, 2001 - present.

University of Plymouth, Department of Geographical Sciences, Research Assistant, 1998 - 1999.

University of Hull, Politics Department, Research Assistant (part-time), 1997 - 1998.

Norwich Union Life Insurance Society, Senior Administor, 1989 - 1994.

Refereed Journal Publications (Chronological, alphabetical)

Levermore, R. & Moore, N. 2015. The need to apply new theories to 'Sport CSR'. Corporate Governance: The international journal of business in society, 15:2, 249-253.

Levermore, R. 2014. How 'organisational geography' influences the shaping of CSR: an example of seven Japanese MNEs. Journal of Corporate Citizenship, 56: 67- 82.

Levermore, R. 2011. Sport-for-development and the 2010 football World Cup. Geography Compass. 5: 886-897.

Levermore, R. 2011. Analysing the extent to which evaluation of corporate social responsibility for development through sport is conducted. Third World Quarterly, 32: 322-335.

Levermore, R. 2010. CSR for development through sport: Examining its potential and limitations. Third World Quarterly, 31: 223-241.


Levermore, R. & Beacom, A. (eds). 2012. Sport and International Development. London: Palgrave.

This book is the re-publication of the high-selling 2009 hardback.

Levermore, R. & Budd, A. (eds). 2004. Sport and International Relations: An emerging relationship. London: Routledge.

Book Chapters

Levermore, R. 2015 (forthcoming). Development and peace through sport in 'Confucian Asia'. In Beyond Sport for Development and Peace: Transnational Perspectives on Theory, Policy and Practice London: Routledge.

Levermore, R. & Beacom, A. 2014. Sport and International Relations re-examined. In Maguire, J. (ed.) Handbook of the Social Sciences and Sport, Human Kinetics.

Levermore, R. 2013. CSR Through Sport From A Critical Perspective: Failing To Address Gross Corporate Misconduct? In The Routledge Handbook of Sport and Corporate Social Responsibility, Routledge, pp. 52-61.

Levermore, R. 2013. Sport in international development: Facilitating improved standard of living? In Houlihan, B. & Green, M. (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Sports Development: 285-307. London: Routledge.


Levermore, R. 2012. Strengths and weaknesses of management game (experiential) learning. Presented at the Association of Business School/Higher Education Academy, Learning & Teaching conference, Manchester.


Member of Editorial Board:

Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal

Ad Hoc reviewers (partial listing):

Global Networks

International Journal of the History of Sport

Journal of Sport and Social Issues

Sport in Society

Urban Studies

The British Journal of Politics and International Relations

Track chair for the 'Sport and development' track at the International Studies Association, Chicago, February 2008.


Corporate social responsibility

International development

Social and economic development in sports industry

Experiential learning in management education


2010. Nominated for sustained excellence in teaching, University of Liverpool.

2007. Winner, Sir Alastair Pilkington teaching award for excellent innovative teaching, University of LiverpoolType your paragraph here.