Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Misener, Laura


This thesis explored how multisport service organizations (MSOs) have responded to the institutional pressure to incorporate health into organizational practice. A qualitative exploratory methodology underpinned by an institutional theoretical framework facilitated a snapshot understanding of the institutional environment within the Canadian sport landscape. Data was collected from online document and policy sources, and later analyzed using Hartwig and Dearing’s (1979) two-step exploratory data analysis process. First, institutional theory was applied to capture the institutional change, institutional pressure, and organizational response within the Canadian sport sector. In a second round of analysis, data was re-expressed using archetype theory. Organizations were classified according to a Canadian Sport Policy (CSP)(2012) objective typology and the MSO response was revisited. The institutional environment was found largely marked by regulative pressures, and organizations most often responded with defiance. The findings suggest that system-level structural and financial mechanisms may be restricting MSO’s capacity to comply to health-oriented institutional pressures.

Summary for Lay Audience

In understanding how sport may come to effectively promote health, this thesis explored sport’s institutional environment to understand the health-related challenges and opportunities at a systemic level. My project explored how sport organizations have adapted in response to changing pressures within their environments, specifically regarding the pressure to incorporate health into organizational practice. This project was guided by institutional theory which is aimed at understanding how organizations react and respond to environmental factors. Data was collected from various online website and policy documents and was analyzed in two phases. In the first order analysis, I summarized a historical review of Canadian sport protocols to demonstrate the changes that have occurred in the sport environment (institutional change). I then transitioned my focus to the current-day sport environment. Here, I was interested in learning about the pressures (institutional pressure) that act on sport organizations to incorporate health objectives into their practice. Finally, I also observed how organizations were responding to this pressure (organizational response), such as whether they did in fact comply to the pressure to tend to health objectives. In the second order analysis, I used archetype theory to systematically group (typologize) organizations and the organizational response was revisited. Findings indicated system-level structural and financial problem areas that may be restrictive for sport organizations and their ability to tend to health objectives.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Available for download on Friday, June 30, 2023