Frontpage  About
Paper info: From Sponsorship to Partnership: In Search of a Partnership Portfolio Framework in the Sports Industry


From Sponsorship to Partnership: In Search of a Partnership Portfolio Framework in the Sports Industry


Sabrina C. Thornton, Benjamin Dehe and David Bamford

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 32nd IMP-conference in Poznan, Poland in 2016.


Not available


This research aims to investigate an under-developed research area in sports partnership management in order to broaden the understanding on the strategic implications derived from a sport club’s partnerships, taking a relationship portfolio approach. This study adopts a relationship perspective to the portfolio framework by considering the complexity of a partnership as the managerial input variable and the value impact of the partnership as the output variable. This study adopts a case study approach, which allows aspects of both exploration and explanation through evidence from various sources within the organization. The data collection entails a three-phase empirical research process to collect data from different sources within a sport club. Based on a dataset containing 66 contracts collected in Phase 2 coupled with interviews in Phase 1 and discussion in Phase 3, this research provides a meaningful application of a partnership portfolio framework. From the sport club’s perspective, this study offers a framework for analyzing its partnership portfolio that provides insights into the current status of the portfolio and ways to build, sustain and/or improve the management of their partnerships. Theoretically, this research provides insights into enhancing the rigor of the operationalization of a portfolio analysis by paying particular attention to the validity of the portfolio framework and its measurement issues. Particularly, this empirical research contributes to the application of inter-organizational relationship theories in the research area of sport management, which has been criticized for its lack of theoretical rigor and implications.