This is the fifth book in the World Association for Sport Management series, this one (like the previous ones) edited by series editors J.J. Zhang and B. G. Pitts, with one of Zhang’s PhD students, Lauren M. Johnson, as third editor.
The World Association for Sport Management (WASM, https://wasmorg.com) was formed 2012 as an alliance between the six major regional/continental sport management associations from North America, Europe, Australia/New Zeeland, Asia, Africa and Latin America (NASSM, EASM, SMAANZ, AASM, ASMA, ALGEDE). The mission of WASM is “to facilitate sport management research and teaching and learning excellence worldwide” (https://wasmorg.com/about/vision-and-mission/) and two of WASM:s nine purposes/objectives are to “promote scholarship and education in sport management” and “celebrate diversity and foster cross-cultural comparison of sport management behaviour and practice” (https://wasmorg.com/about/vision-and-mission/).
An interesting detail in the bibliographic page of the book clarifies that it actually is WASM that holds the intellectual copyrights and thereby is listed as the actor having dealt with chapter selection and editorial matters, despite that the three aforementioned individuals are listed as the editors on the cover and elsewhere in the book. Since WASM have taken on the role of editorship, I will accordingly do my review with the mission of WASM and two of the nine purposes/objectives for WASM in mind. So, how does WASM put ‘worldwide’, ‘celebrating diversity’ and ‘scholarship promotion’ into practice in this book? Not at all, is the short answer. The more elaborated answer is as follows:
Some chapters are so poor in all possible aspects that the only decent thing I as a reviewer can do is to avoid mentioning them and instead just flag their existence as a short warning here: simply do not buy or use this book in any way.
Worldwide? No, not at all. Yes, Latin America (ALGEDE; Brazil, 1 author), Africa (ASMA; Tanzania, 2 authors; South Africa, 1 author), Asia (AASM; China, 2 authors; Taiwan, 2 authors; Iran, 1 author) and Europe (EASM; The Netherlands, 3 authors; France, 1 author; Poland, 1 author) indeed are represented, while Australia and New Zeeland (SMAANZ) are not. But a few splashes does not make a lake. These 14 authors from 4 out of 5 member associations/continents vs. the 24 authors from North America (NASSM) gives the ratio of rest-of-the-world 36,8% and USA 63,2%. That is, ‘worldwide’ understood in that very special way that probably only is possible in the US at the moment.
Celebrating diversity? No, not at all, but indeed unabashedly celebrating nepotism. The book manifests a very skewed representational set-up in several ways, but most omnipresent is that the state of Georgia, USA, is represented by no less than 14 authors (3 senior scholars, 10 PhD Students, 1 Master Student) out of in total 38 authors. That is 36,8% of the authors in the book. All of these 14 authors except one is from University of Georgia. Two of these 14 authors from the state of Georgia, USA, are the two senior book series editors as well as editors of this book, J.J. Zhang and B. G. Pitts, who also have been very instrumental in the formation of WASM (https://wasmorg.com/about/evolution-of-wasm/). Nothing wrong with the state of Georgia in USA, it is a beautiful and wonderful state with great people and fine universities. Somewhat more wrong is to blur boundaries between organizations, individual roles, missions and actions – to blur that individual senior scholars with distinct influence, reputation and power in these subject areas co-opt a Routledge book to boost “their people” and to do this local nepotism in the name of ‘international issues’ (book title), ‘global issues’ (part I of the book, 8 chapters) and in the name of an organization claiming to serve sport management communities ‘worldwide’ (WASM mission). I am not sure which is the worst: the blatant nepotism as such, the fact that it is done fully in the open and without reservations from any of the other scholars participating in the book, that Routledge (once a strong-hold of academic integrity and quality) has sunken this low in its internal quality control in the rat race for market shares, or that WASM seems to be a con organization (alternatively an organization hijacked by a few individuals in order to promote US exceptionalism and interests).
Scholarship promotion? No, not much, but some flickering exceptions are to be found. Why overall not much of scholarship promotion? 1) The skewed representation and lack of diversity described above makes it impossible in a reasonably fair way to deal with what the book announces (‘international sport business management’). 2) The three editors of the book are also chapter authors, J.J. Zhang in two chapters, Brenda G. Pitts and Lauren M. Johnson in one chapter each (exempted from these numbers is chapter 1, where editors have written and should write a framework for an edited book). The fact that book editors are involved also as authors in 4 of 15 book chapters is a hallmark sign of low academic standards. 3) 16 out of 38 authors are junior scholars or not scholars (11 PhD students, 3 master students/master degree/consultant, 2 no affiliation/strange titles). There is nothing at all wrong with inviting/publishing relevant individuals with a variety of backgrounds, if done in the right way, but 16 out of 38 make up 42,1%, which is distinctly higher ratio for these categories than most other comparable products. 4) Some chapters are so poor in all possible aspects that the only decent thing I as a reviewer can do is to avoid mentioning them and instead just flag their existence as a short warning here: simply do not buy or use this book in any way.
Some flickering exceptions though, in a substandard book with low levels of scholarship: Routledge do not sell single chapters as pdf-files, but if you in one way or another can get your hands on single contributions, some useful prospects are the following: Flavia da Cunha Bastos provides a fine helicopter view of the “Emerging sport management challenges in Latin America” (chapter 2) and have both the scholarly and practical credits to undertake such a difficult task in less than 20 pages. Informative, well written and even with a touch of critical thinking (which most often is completely absent within sport management and related subject areas). Anneliese Goslin provides us with a similar helicopter view when in a descriptive way leading us through “Sport management curricula in Africa” (chapter 3). Ben Hattink, Gerco van Dalfsen and Adri Broeke provide us with a very good written forecasting chapter asking interesting questions about “The sport management professional of tomorrow” and build this chapter up with a quite broad and interesting set of models, concepts and theoretical underpinning (for instance, distinctly rooted in Sarasvathy’s effectuation theory). They are also able to integrate these components in the end, finishing up with contrasting the old-school managerial ways with more contemporary entrepreneurial styles of managing sport organizations in the future.
All-in-all, avoid this book. And ask someone at Routledge what they actually are up to nowadays.
Copyright © Hans Lundberg 2022
Table of Content
PART I Global issues
PART II New ideas