Changing Boundaries in Leisure Organizations

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In “Changing Boundaries and New Management Implications for Leisure Organizations,” Trevor Slack describes a convergence that is occurring between three types of leisure organizations: public sector organizations, voluntary leisure organizations, and private sector organizations. As he explains, the traditional boundaries between these groups “have become blurred,” because the public sector organizations have had increasing pressures to become more closely linked to corporate partners or become market driven, while the voluntary organizations have been pressured to become more professional and bureaucratic instead of being more loosely and informally organized. At the same time, private organizations have increasingly been cooperating rather than competing with other private organizations in various types of strategic alliances, joint ventures, licensing agreements, and investment arrangements, as well as teaming up with public and voluntary organizations.

As Slack describes it, the public organizations, which have a mission of serving the public good in some way, such as by contributing to making the nation healthier, improving the environment, and supporting the arts and culture, have needed to become market driven due to declining funding. This has affected sports, arts, and other organizations in the public sector. As a result, many have become smaller due to having less money to finance their staff and programs, or they have looked for ways to increase their financial resources. For example, they have asked users to pay for their services, have negotiated contracts for outside services and products and have carefully monitored them due to in-house personnel reductions, or have teamed up with private sector companies which have become sponsors in return for advertising and gaining recognition for their companies and products.

Meanwhile, the voluntary organizations have had to become more “businesslike in their operation” in response to the push for public organizations to become more closely linked to the private business sector and become more market driven. Another reason for this growing link with private organizations is that these public organizations have had less funds to contribute to voluntary groups, so that these voluntary groups have needed more support from private companies. However, to gain this private support, these volunteer groups have had to become more accountable, effective, and efficient in return for their support, since these private groups want to show what they are getting for their money, much like making an investment in anything. So the voluntary groups have had to become more professional in order to get these funds. In particular, they have had to become more strategic in showing how they are contributing value, and that has often meant that they have to become more corporate in their own structures, which has included bringing in paid professionals to manage the organization and seek sponsorships and grants for financial support.

Another result of these developments has been a growing number of strategic alliances among different types of organizations – both within these three different categories and across them. Slack mentions a number of such alliances, such as between Nike and various manufacturers of its shoes in the Far East, and between various professional sports leagues and merchandising companies to sell products with their logos.

Many other examples might be noted, such as in the use of reality shows on TV to promote products through product tie-ins, such as contestants drinking popular soft-drinks or eating branded potato ships on Survivor, and gushing over how great each these products are. On The Apprentice, Trump not only promotes various brands by integrating them with the tasks of contestants, such as creating a commercial for Clairol and a display of Kim Kardashian’s perfume line, but often Trump invites contestants to raise funds for a charity.

The implications of these changes is that park, recreation and tourism professionals need to think about how they might make more strategic alliances and look for more marketing opportunities to promote their programs and services, whether they are public, voluntary, or private organizations. All sectors are affected by declining funds, whether from grants, charitable contributions, or the discretionary funds available to consumers, so these organizations have to do more with less through strategic alliances and lower cost marketing and promotion. For example, the park, recreation, and tourism professionals might look into ways they can team up with individuals from other companies to put on joint programs and promote them together, which will reduce their marketing costs.


write by evans

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