Developing the capacity of National Sport Associations (NSAs)

Submitting Institution

University of Stirling

Unit of Assessment

Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Human Geography, Policy and Administration

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Summary of the impact

As a consequence of research carried out at the University of Stirling, as set out in this case study, enhancement of the capacity of National Sport Associations has been achieved:

  • A set of development actions have been established by the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) in order to guide future planning for the NSAs.
  • The National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina has adopted the capacity development process followed in this research
  • Olympic Solidarity has developed a web platform to allow the NSAs in all 204 National Olympic Committees to carry out capacity development.
  • The NOC of Iraq has passed a resolution to build the capacity of the NSAs in Iraq.

Underpinning research

The research set out in this case study was part of a five strand research programme funded by the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Malaysia in 2011. The programme of research was commissioned in order to investigate ways of developing the country's sport system so that it can make a greater contribution to the economy. This specific strand of the research was carried out with the National Sport Associations, which are the Malaysian equivalent of National Governing Bodies. The research aimed to evaluate the capacity of the NSAs to contribute effectively to a national sport industry and make recommendations for their development.

An analysis of National Sport Associations was carried out using the Readiness Assessment Tool (RAT) developed by Robinson and Minikin (2011). This enabled the identification of the gaps that exist between the current level of development of the NSAs and what is perceived necessary, by an expert panel, for NSAs to be able to contribute effectively to the national sport industry. This research was the first application of the Readiness Assessment Tool to assess the capacity of a nation's NSA sector.

Data collection was carried out by a Research Assistant who was based at the Olympic Council of Malaysia and National Sport Council for a period of four weeks in June and July 2011. The Readiness Assessment Tool questionnaire was distributed via the OCM to all 53 member and associate member NSAs. Responses were received from 28 of the 36 full members and 5 of the 17 associate members of the OCM. The results of the questionnaires were used to assess the level of organisational development of each NSA, which, when compared to the benchmark, allowed an identification of where each organisation needs development. A Readiness Assessment development report was generated for each respondent NSA and an opportunity was provided for their representatives to clarify, dispute and discuss the findings.

The individual findings were then merged to create an assessment of the NSAs as a whole, so that recommendations could be made for improving the development of NSAs in general. This was the first time the Readiness Assessment Tool had been used to do this. The overall findings, supported by interviews with the Olympic Council of Malaysia, the National Sports Council, the National Institute of Sport, the Office of the Sports Commissioner and the Ministry for Youth and Sport led to 27 recommendations for NSA development ranging from the provision of computers to all NSAs to the development of financial procedures and policies for all NSAs. Thus, the final outcome of the research was a development report for the NSA sector as a whole. This report, alongside the individual NSA reports, is being used to provide direction for capacity building of NSAs in Malaysia.

The research team

The research was carried out June-August 2011.
Leigh Robinson: Chair in Sport Management (Principal investigator)
Brian Minikin: Lecturer in Sport Management (Research Assistant in 2011)

References to the research

Robinson, L and Minikin, B (2011) Developing the capacity of National Sport Associations. Research Report for the Malaysian Minister of Sport and Education.

Robinson, L and Minikin, B (2011) "Developing strategic capacity in Olympic Sport Organisations" Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal 1(3) 219-233.
Grant awarded to: Prof Leigh Robinson
Grant title: Developing the capacity of National Sport Associations
Sponsor: Ministry for Youth and Sport — Malaysia
Period of the grant: 01 May 2011 - 31st October 2011
Value of the grant: £40,000


Details of the impact

The research carried out in Malaysia impacted on capacity development across all sporting nations. It has had specific impact in Malaysia where the research was carried out, however, this research established a process that has led to the wider adoption of the capacity building of NSAs throughout the world. Specifically the NOC of Bosnia and Herzegovina has implemented a capacity building programme as a direct consequence of this research and the NOC of Iraq has passed a resolution to adopt this approach at the end of 2013. More internationally, in recognition of the value of the development reports in building capacity, Olympic Solidarity, the Solidarity Commission of the International Olympic Committee has developed a platform to make the capacity development process followed in this research available to NSAs worldwide.

In Malaysia, the research has led to the following impacts:

  • A set of development actions has been established from the report by the Olympic Council of Malaysia in order to guide future planning for the NSAs: In response to the report, the OCM developed an action plan that is being used to help with the development of the NSAs. The Hon Secretary of the OCM noted that "the OCM Strategic Committee should study and where appropriate include them as part of OCM's Strategic Plan under the section `Developing the capacity of NSAs'".
  • All NSAs have computers and access to information technology: The research showed that some NSAs lacked access to computers and information technology. This was impacting on their ability to promote themselves, communicate with stakeholders, manage their finances properly and to establish and run competitions. OCM has now provided all NSAs with computers, which will support the requirements of all 5 key recommendations. "Already 2 NSAs, namely the Malaysian Weightlifting Federation and the Malaysian Gymnastics Federation, have applied for a grant to purchase computers. In addition, the Report has identified 10 NSAs without computers. OCM should purchase the computers from a grant from the OCM Trust Fund and present them to the NSAs concerned."
    (Hon Secretary, Olympic Council of Malaysia)
  • OCM training programmes have been revised in order to meet the needs identified in the report. An evaluation of the training and development that OCM offers has been carried out and a new set of programmes for attracting participants from the NSAs have been developed.
  • "A comprehensive evaluation of the courses by OCM should be carried within the next month by Ms. Moira Tan and a new programme for attracting participants from NSAs should be started in 2012."
    (Hon Secretary, Olympic Council of Malaysia)

As stated above, this research has provided the platform for capacity development on an international scale. Details of the research carried out in Malaysia setting out evidence of its ability to bring about capacity development, in particular the role of the development reports, were presented to a workshop of NOC managers in Lausanne in September 2012. As a consequence, the capacity development process has been implemented in the NSAs of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"So far we have evaluated 22 national federations and the feedback is, on one side rather pessimistic because the results are not rather good, but on the other side, just the process of evaluation served a lot to understand the state of our NFs, but for the Secretaries General of these federations to understand what their main problems are." (Vice- President, Olympic Committee of Bosnia and Herzegovina)

More importantly, this capacity building process is considered by Olympic Solidarity as the main mechanism by which they will facilitate the development of Olympic sport organisations in the future. As a consequence, Olympic Solidarity have adopted the RAT and have developed a platform that will make the capacity building process set out here available to all National Olympic Committees in order to develop NSAs world-wide. Training and support will be provided by the research team.

"...The intention is that they can use the RAT to guide them to develop as organisations, by using the Rat to produce a development plan along the lines of that produced for the Malaysian National Federations."
(Head of NOC Management Programmes, Olympic Solidarity)

Other impacts have been initiated and will be on-going. Within Malaysia, as recommended by the research, operations manuals are in the process of being prepared by the General Manager of OCM and will be used to standardise the operations of the NSAs. In addition, the NOC of Iraq has passed a motion to adopt the Readiness Assessment Tool and as noted by the Director General, National Olympic Committee of Iraq will use the capacity building process "as part of [their] planning for the coming four years."

Sources to corroborate the impact

The corroborating statements quoted in section 4 above are extracted from letters provided by:

President: Olympic Council of Malaysia

Head of NOC Management Programmes

Secretary General: Iraq Olympic Committee

International relations: Bosnia and Herzegovina National Olympic Committee

Contact details have been provided with the REF submission for all organisations listed.