In this case study, decision-making processes in the sport club ‘IF Stoor’ are analysed with a focus on so called voluntary “key actors” and their involvement in formal and informal decision-making processes. The aim of the study is to provide knowledge about how eleven key actors in a large sport club like IF Stoor – with approximately 3,000 members, many organisational levels but relatively few members involved in the formal decision-making bodies – acted and handled democratic claims and at the same time tried to secure the voluntary based sport production. The analysis shows that the key actors were involved continually in the club’s two parallel decision-making processes. There were formal decision-making bodies with statutes-directed processes which strengthened the club’s organization and economy. There were also informal, spatially indefinite and practice-driven decision-making processes that existed parallel with the formal ones. The informal decision-making processes, which had participatory qualities, involved a large part of the club’s about 150 leaders. This applied in particular to the coordinators of the club’s 10 sport sections – here labelled as key actors – who acted and functioned as organisational “nodes” in the decision-making processes. These coordinators, but also many other categories of members – especially leaders and athletes (and supportive relatives) – represented, in accordance with Ahrne & Papakosta’s organisational theory, ‘resources’, who occasionally engaged in participatory democratic discussions, negotiations and decisions. A conclusion drawn from this case study is that when informal decision-making processes are included in the analyses, a relatively large number of the club 150 leaders were involved in collective decision-making.
JONNY HJELM is Professor of History at the Department of History, Philosophical and Religious Studies at Umeå University. He is also an associated scholar to Umeå School of Sport Sciences. He has since the late 1980s worked with labor and trade union history research. The last 15 years he has also explored women’s football history and the competition-critical discourse in Swedish sport research (in social sciences and humanities). He is currently leading the research project The sport club as a milieu for democratic fostering and – which represents a new track in his research – Freethinkers. Pro-secular organizations in Sweden 1880-2010.
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