TU Munich, Department of Sport and Health Sciences
It is inspiring to read how the perspective of looking can impact our minds for further personal and social engagement development – a valuable outcome from reading Roald Undlien’s book. The author describes in his work “We just knew that we had to be a part of it”: The Youth Olympic Games as a catalyst for social innovation a stimulating and original perspective on social improvement.
A fundamental justification of his research interest is established on not existing basic terms and investigations. He defines a lack of knowledge and a missing ethical approach in research fields to highlight his research interest, the theoretical framework of social leveraging, social innovation, and social entrepreneurship.
The construction of his written work includes four articles which invites the reader to a way of looking into different images and empirical improvement.
Undlien explores how volunteering at an Olympic event can function as a facilitator, or in other words, catalyst for social innovation in particular and beyond for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). According to the general opinion, people with ID are not usually a part of the sports-event volunteer settings. Moreover, the book is made up of different parts including other projects that involved other marginalized groups which were also partially studied.
The author’s work contributes to the field of sports event volunteering by studying a group of volunteers with intellectual disabilities through the theoretical framework of social leveraging, social innovation, and social entrepreneurship. Through the empirical studies, appended in three articles, links to other theoretical concepts are made, which includes social capital and quality of life.
One paper relates to the facilitating of specific qualitative interviews obviously targeting people with ID, an outstanding aspect of the investigation. Some of the main findings are that volunteering at Olympic events holds a potential for cooperation between individuals or organizations that do not normally cooperate, where a win–win effect can be achieved. Organizations addressing social issues on behalf of vulnerable groups was experienced at the Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games (LYOG, 2016) as a suitable arena for entrepreneurial social projects, with a further potential for creating social value for additional individuals.
Some of the main findings are that volunteering at Olympic events holds a potential for cooperation between individuals or organizations that do not normally cooperate, where a win–win effect can be achieved.
Social innovation and social entrepreneurship are key elements as well as the examined sample, people with an intellectual disability – considered as volunteers.
Ordinarily, this target group is the focus of sporting events and movements such as the Special Olympics – the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and activities to 5 million participants and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries – where they receive support and attention. The volunteer program of Special Olympics is a well-established part of the games and includes cooperative volunteering, sports support engagement and managing activities.
In the author’s research a different picture is shown, namely the active influence of people with ID as volunteers and not the other way around. The place of action, LYOG 2016, was chosen because of a general interest of the organizer to show social responsibility by demonstrating a willingness to include diverse people as volunteer participants in the LYOG, as well a group of high school students with ID.
Roald Undlien’s book includes four articles. The first, “The Youth Olympic Games as an opportunity for sports entrepreneurship”, includes an examination of social entrepreneurs in the context of major sport events undertaken through a case study, using five different project leaders of social entrepreneurial ventures. Parallel qualitative interviews were conducted to analyse their perceptions and experiences during the implementation of the event.
The second article, “Facilitating qualitative interviews with people with intellectual disabilities”, describes the author’s need of using a targeted, appropriate tool. For this reason, a multiple case study to examine qualitative interviews was chosen to justify an applicable instrument.
The following two articles “Being a Part of It – People with intellectual disabilities as volunteers in the Youth Olympic Games” and “Lasting social value or a one-off? People with intellectual disabilities’ experiences with volunteering for the Youth Olympic Games” reflect and deepen the view on social entrepreneurial aspects in extending the fieldwork of this venture by observation and additional real-time interviews during the event, when the participating volunteers were interviewed again.
The author explains that it is reasonable to assume that an article’s focus is determined by the scientific field to which it belongs – for instance, an article published within the field of economics and business administration may deviate completely in terms of focus and theoretical framework from an article within the field of sports science. However, only two criteria were taken into account in the selection process; firstly, the scientific field into which the article could be categorized, in this case determined by the publishing journal, and secondly, that the article dealt with sport and social entrepreneurship in this explicit context. As a result of this process, some article descriptions may have been condensed to include only those sections concerned with sport and social entrepreneurship. Hence, some descriptions of the articles included in this review might be perceived as abstract. The objective of the third and last stage was to examine how the concept of social entrepreneurship, from the point of view of the until now presented schools of thought, has been utilized in relation to sport, regardless of to which scientific disciplines the articles belong.
This valuable work of Roald Undlien describes different ways of seeing and positively influencing people in the context of social impact. His clear and successful presentation of recent history on the subject as well as its complexity leads to follow-up ideas and interest for further investigations in this field. As for example suggested by Undlien himself, a new research topic would be then to measure attitudes of citizens and politicians towards social entrepreneurship within a sporting context.
From the perspective of a researcher studying health, mental and sport challenges of people with so called intellectual disabilities, this book is an important contribution to the field, and opens up for prospective activities and subsequent research.
Copyright © Daniela Schwarz 2021