Organisational knowledge creation in Norwegian football: From talk to text

Martin Nesse1, Jan Erik Ingebrigtsen1, Tomas Peterson1,2
1 Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU
2 Malmö University
Jeremy Crump
Translation from Norwegian

This article discusses knowledge creation in Norwegian football, how and to what extent work is done to externalise and preserve tacit knowledge at association and club level, and the differences in approach to knowledge management at those two levels. It is based on a qualitative research design with fourteen interviews. Five of the interviewees work for the Norwegian Football Association (Norges Fotballforbund, NFF), and nine of them work in two leading clubs.

The theoretical starting point for the study is Nonaka’s (1994) Organizational Knowledge Creation Theory. The results of the study show that at both association and club level cultural norms for knowledge creation exist in varying degrees. Tacit knowledge is based on a selection of experiences drawn largely from the world of football in which different career patterns, education and work experience contribute to variation in the process of knowledge creation. There are also organisational cultures at both association and club level which are well suited to this kind of knowledge creation. These cultures manifest themselves in cultural norms and rules for the social contexts in which knowledge is created. These include coaches’ meetings and observation at the training ground.

There are a number of challenges for the development of good knowledge creation practices in Norwegian football. The most significant one relates to the ability of the organisational culture to record new knowledge in written form. This ability is either totally lacking or exists in a form which is only effective for the transmission of established knowledge. The way the association and the clubs create written records is critical for further progress. As the association is at the top of the hierarchy and sets the direction for clubs at grass-roots level, the way it records knowledge has consequences which go beyond its own culture.

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MARTIN NESSE graduated from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in 2016 with a master’s degree (MSc.) in Sport Science. Martin now works as a research assistant at the Department of Sociology and Political Science at NTNU and is involved in sports sciences and teacher education within sports. His primary research interests are in the field of organizational theory and competency development.

JAN ERIK INGEBRIGTSEN is an Assistant Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. His research areas include socialisation to sport, organisation of sport, sport and education, and sport and physical activity in a lifetime perspective. He has done several studies for Norway’s sports federation, related to children and youth sport.

TOMAS PETERSON is a Senior Professor at Malmö University and Professor II at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. His research areas include sport and social entrepreneurship, the professionalization of Swedish football, selection and ranking in Swedish children’s and youth sports, the relation between school sport and competition sport, as well as sport politics.  He was the investigator of the latest Official Report of the Swedish Government on Sport Policy (SOU 2008:59).


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