Philanthropy Research Workshop Series: Events: News & Events: Lilly Family School of Philanthropy: IUPUI

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April 20

Kathy BabiakKathy BabiakAssociate Professor, Sport Management, University of Michigan

Does team ownership affect corporate philanthropy in professional sports? »

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Abstract: Introduction: As one of the pillars of corporate social responsibility, corporate philanthropy (CP) is a way for businesses to create social impact in the communities where their operations are located and leverage access to national and global markets (Gautier and Pache, 2015). In the context of professional sports, corporate philanthropy has seen growth and increased attention through the creation of affiliated team charitable foundations (Babiak and Wolfe, 2009; Walters, 2009).

Emerging scholarly interest on CP in professional sport has examined its social and strategic value (Bingham & Walters, 2013; Inoue, Mahan, & Kent, 2013; Ratten & Babiak, 2010). However, an overlooked aspect is the role and function played by CP influencers within companies, particularly organizational leaders/owners (Galaskiewicz 1985; Gautier & Pache, 2015). Brammer, Millington, and Pavelin (2006) found that top management plays an important role in determining the overall size of most companies’ philanthropic activities.

From the upper echelons perspective, individual owners are more thrifty and more sensitive to financial results than agents/managers who may not have a financial interest in the business (Lee, Sun & Moon, 2018). This perspective posits that individualized experiences, perspectives, values ​​and cognitions influence managerial and strategic choices such as CP (Hambrick and Mason, 1984; Hambrick, 2007).

Aim: Using the upper echelons perspective, this study explores the relationship between ownership and the direction, impact and nature of PC in the context of professional sport. In particular, our research questions examine the observable individual characteristics of sports team owners using an upper echelons perspective to understand how age, education, work experience, and socioeconomic roots influence performance. in CP.

Methods : The time series panel data was collected from various publicly available sources and compiled into a central database of 146 American professional sports teams from the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and MLS. Dependent variables include level of corporate philanthropy derived from tax filing data (2000-2016): revenue, expenses, assets, mission/focus, and mode of social impact (categorized by charitable contributions to partners, program delivery, and /or infrastructure construction). ). Independent variables include upper echelon attributes such as age, tenure as team owner, and functional training/training. Relationship moderation is the type of team ownership structure (individual, corporate, or partnership). Multilevel regression modeling will be performed to examine associations between higher-echelon attributes and level of corporate philanthropy after adjusting for covariates (e.g., team performance and market size).

Discussion: PC is a unique phenomenon: while the individual decisions of business leaders determine corporate philanthropic activities, their decisions are also partly shaped by organizational goals and processes. Future research will explore these facets of this phenomenon. The results will provide valuable initial insights into the directions and scope of PC efforts in professional sport and may offer managerial insight into effective and impactful PC delivery. This information may be useful to boards and other PC managers in the design, structuring and execution of PC in sport.

Biography : Dr. Babiak’s main areas of research focus on social responsibility and philanthropy in sport. She is director of the Michigan Center for Sport and Social Responsibility. In this role, she works with a research team of international academics whose work advances understanding of the role of sports organizations and businesses in society. Dr. Babiak’s research has examined the social impact of the sporting efforts of professional athletes, teams, leagues and team owners. His research has explored the strategic factors that motivate athletes and sport organizations to engage in prosocial behaviors, the structure and organization of these efforts, and the impact of these initiatives on the intended beneficiaries.

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