Contexts shaping the development and success of elite sport systems: A scoping review

Ralph Andrew Ramos, Veerle De Bosscher, Aurélie Pankowiak, Christian Wisdom Valleser

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The importance of contexts in analysing elite sport systems and policies, as reflected in substantial research over the past couple of decades, is considered to nurture or constrain the development and outcome of elite sport systems toward international sporting success. Theorising elite sport systems as institutions operating and embedded in an open system may provide insight into the ‘hows’ (throughput processes) and the ‘whys’ (conditions) of the effectiveness of sport systems and policies to determine what may work (or not work) for each country’s specific context. This scoping review aims to examine and map determinants of elite sport development in nations. Specifically, the review analysed how studies: (1) theorised the determinants, (2) used terms to denote contextual determinants for elite sport development and success and (3) described or conceptualised context. Further, the review identified context dimensions derived from the elite sport development determinants. The scoping review identified 19 studies that contain relevant contextual determinants. Findings present seven context dimensions derived from a neo-institutional organisation framework that pertain to different institutional contexts that may influence the development of elite sport policy systems. An improved conceptualisation of context may enhance our understanding of the relationship between processes (i.e., sport policy mechanisms) and contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-676
Number of pages28
JournalSport Management Review
Issue number5
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the UP System FRASDP and UP Diliman OVCRD under Grant No. 191942; University of the Philippines Diliman University of the Philippines System. The authors thank research assistants Geoffrey Alunan and Jeremy Pineda for helping out during the review process.

Funding Information:
Digel and colleagues’ () success resource model investigated the underlying processes in sport development among eight nations through a project funded by the International Olympic Committee, the National Olympic Committee of Germany, the International Association of Athletics Federation, and the German Ministry for Domestic Affairs. Lastly, the study findings by Newland and Kellett () were based on a larger comparative study of triathlon in Australia and the USA.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand.


  • Elite sport system
  • contexts
  • sport policy
  • neo-institutional organisation
  • scoping review


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