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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 Ford
University of Bath
United Kingdom
David Ford

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.