Article: article from journal or magazin.
A rationalist perspective on the autonomy of international sport governing bodies : towards a pragmatic autonomy in the steering of sports
International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
International sport governing bodies (ISGBs) are built on the foundations of freedom of association and traditionally enjoy a large degree of autonomy in their decision-making. Their autonomy is increasingly confined, however, and their hierarchical self-governance is giving way to a more networked governance, in which different stakeholders exert power in different ways and in different contexts in a complex web of interrelationships. Taking a rationalist perspective on the autonomy of ISGBs, this article demonstrates that ISGBs are deploying strategies to safeguard their waning governing monopoly over international sport. Opting for an inductive approach, the authors present four possible conceptualizations of autonomy as applied to ISGBs, namely political autonomy, legal autonomy, financial autonomy and pyramidal autonomy. For each dimension, they describe the different strategies ISGBs wield in order to safeguard different dimensions of their autonomy. This article uses governance theories to hypothesize that the autonomy of ISGBs can be understood as 'pragmatic autonomy' since ISGBs only cede certain aspects of their autonomy under particular circumstances and when being subject to specific threats. Acting in a rationalist manner, they are able to keep control over governance developments in sport by using indirect and more subtle forms of governance.
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