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Survey: A social network analysis for sport for development and Olympic Movement stakeholders

The Olympic Rings outside a stadium

Survey: A social network analysis for sport for development and Olympic Movement stakeholders

A new project to map organisational relationships in the sport for development sector in Africa and Europe.

The Olympic Studies Centre (OSC) has funded a new project to map organizational relationships in the Sport for Development (S4D) sector in Africa and Europe. This project is being conducted in partnership with Loughborough University London (Dr Steve Swanson, Dr Holly Collison, and Professor James Skinner) and the University of Johannesburg (Professor Cora Burnett-Louw).

The goal of this study is to understand traditional and emerging networks in the S4D landscape, produce insights on productive collaborations and alliances, and understand how knowledge, funding, and leadership effectiveness flowing through the S4D network. The research is funded by the OSC and contributes to the IOC’s pledge to support Sustainable Development Goals through sport by energizing and enhancing global partnerships. The outcomes of this project will provide recommendations and strategies to the IOC on how to build stronger and more sustainable partnerships between Olympic Movement (OM) stakeholders, UN Agencies, NGOs, Funders, and Sponsors within the global network.

For nearly a decade, academics and practitioners have been advocating for partnership development within regional and global SfD networks. Collaboration between the various actors in the SfD system is essential for effective knowledge transfer, information sharing, and creating productive relationships, which in turn provide a foundation for sustainable growth and development. To date, there has been no social network analysis of the SfD environment to provide evidence of network structure, relational dynamics, and strategic positioning. Significant gaps in knowledge exist concerning how the main players form relationships, interact with each other, and collaborate within these networks.

This social network analysis (SNA) will focus specifically on facilitators, funders and implementers in the S4D and OM networks who have a presence in Africa and/or Europe. SNA is a powerful tool used to identify and visually represent the different types of relationships that exist between organizations in a network. This perspective highlights the overall structure and density of the network, the value of relationships, along with the various resource that flow through the network, such as funding, knowledge and social capital. The most important initial step in this SNA study is to identify who the S4D and OM facilitators, funders, and implementers are in Africa and Europe. This project therefore takes a balanced and inclusive approach by identifying key players and relationships across both the Global South and Global North.

This research is timely, as it responds to recent calls for greater collaboration in the S4D sector (, 2016), with the outcomes supporting the creation of more effective and responsive S4D systems to address broader concerns of sustainability, capacity and growth. The S4D sector relates directly to the Olympic Agenda 2020, and this study’s focus on relationships specifically addresses the IOC’s pledge to support the Sustainable Development Goals through sport by energizing and enhancing global partnership. The researchers aim to work closely with key stakeholders and influencers in S4D and Olympic space to identify key players and connections. Identified organizations will be asked to take a brief 10-minute survey to lend insight on the type of relationships they have with other organisations which facilitate, fund or implement S4D initiatives in the focal regions.

The project is therefore looking to get input from as many organizations as possible who deliver or support S4D and OM work in these two regions. If you represent an organization which is a facilitator, funder or implementer of S4D activities in Africa or Europe (or both), and would be interested in ensuring your organization’s input and footprint is represented in this study, please email project director Dr Steve Swanson ( directly for access to the survey. For additional information about this research, please also visit the project’s website.


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Steve Swanson


Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 11:29

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