The role of elite sport policies, pathways and inter-organisational relationships in developing elite tennis players

Onderzoeksoutput: PhD Thesis


Many countries globally support and continuously seek ways to achieve and sustain elite athlete success. Governments spend significant sums of public or government controlled funding in elite sport to improve or maintain success at the international level. However, elite athlete development is the result of a combination of elite sport policies, athlete development pathways and interactions between various stakeholders that are involved in the delivery of athlete development pathways. These factors make elite athlete development a complex, multi-layered and multi-faceted field of study that necessitates specific research efforts that focus on how these factors contribute to elite athlete development in specific sports. This thesis examines these factors and progresses from a macro-level examination of broad international policies to a meso-level exploration of specific strategies for player development pathways. Then, it moves into a micro-level analysis of the inter-organisational relationships (IORs) between tennis clubs and a tennis federation. Three studies were used to undertake these examinations and shape the body of this thesis. The first study examined tennis-specific and policy related factors that influence international tennis success. A convergent parallel mixed methods design including qualitative and quantitative data was used to collect and analyse the data (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). Specifically, 35 international tennis experts participated in an online questionnaire which combined (a) open questions on factors that influence elite tennis success of countries, and (b) Likert scale questions based on the Sport Policy factors that Lead to International Sporting Success (SPLISS) model (De Bosscher, De Knop, van Bottenburg, & Shibli, 2006). The second study examined the role of various stakeholders in supporting elite player development processes. Using the attraction, retention/transition and nurturing (ARTN) framework of sport development processes (Sotiriadou, Shilbury, & Quick, 2008), this study used an organisational perspective to explain how sport organisations and stakeholders within these organisations develop, deliver or support tennis player programs and strategies at different development stages. Data from 18 in-depth interviews with international tennis experts were thematically analysed to explore stakeholder involvement and how their interactions and strategies shape elite tennis pathways. The third study examined the ways that IORs between tennis clubs and a tennis federation facilitate elite athlete development. This study used a conceptual framework based on IOR formation and management literature (e.g., Babiak, 2007; Parent & Harvey, 2008). Data were collected through document analysis and 14 semi-structured in-depth interviews with representatives from the tennis federation and tennis clubs in Flanders. The results of the first study showed the SPLISS model should to be adapted in order to reflect the tennis-specific context. The key ground for the adaptation of the SPLISS model relates to the emergence of two new contextual themes, culture and commercial environment (e.g., media, sponsors and private academies). The findings confirm that the way elite sport policies are shaped and implemented vary in order to reflect sport-specific needs (Sotiriadou, Gowthorp, & De Bosscher, 2013; Truyens, De Bosscher, Heyndels, & Westerbeek, 2014). However, questions on how these policies result into actual strategies and player development pathways in tennis remained unanswered. This further questioning led to the second study and the use of an organisational sport development frame
Originele taal-2English
Toekennende instantie
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • De Bosscher, Veerle, Promotor
  • Sotiriadou, Popi, Promotor, Externe Persoon
Plaats van publicatieBrussels
StatusPublished - 2016


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