Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Michael Barry, James Skinner and Terry Engelberg
Chapter 1: Sidelined: employment relations in professional sports
This book aims to address an area of research that remains greatly underdeveloped in sport management. There is no scholarly research handbook that we are aware of that examines the interconnection between Employment Relations (ER) and sport. There are books that look at sport and related areas such as human resource management (HRM), behavioural economics, international law and psychology. While some of these volumes incorporate aspects of ER, none of them deal with ER in great depth. Remarkably, some large research volumes do not include any specific treatment of ER issues. As well as providing an in-depth treatment of ER issues in sports, this handbook is broad in its coverage. The book is explicitly international in that it includes issues and concepts relevant to sporting codes in various countries, and it also draws on an international field of scholars and includes case studies from different codes of sport in a number of countries. The study of ER incorporates aspects of industrial relations (IR), such as labour law, collective bargaining and industrial disputes, and HRM, including recruitment, training and development, and performance and reward management. While years ago these were treated as separate and distinct fields of research, there has been an increasing emphasis on integration. It is important to acknowledge, however, that there are some core differences between these approaches to ER. The traditional IR view sees an inherent divergence between the interests of workers and managers which can create conflict and lead to industrial disputes such as those examined in this volume. While there are many areas of cooperation, there is as one author puts it a ‘structured antagonism’ in ER (Edwards, 1986). HRM, which was previously known as personnel management, operates from a perspective that views the interests of both parties as being closely aligned around the goals of the firm, and so conflict is more aberrant than inherent. In this handbook we employ the abbreviation ER because we try to capture both approaches, although there will be differences in emphasis within the topics we cover. For example, a chapter on bargaining or disputes will have more of an IR emphasis compared to a chapter on player or coach career development which will be more aligned with the core principles of HRM.