Internationalisation of a Global Sporting Product: The Case of Rugby 7s
Sports are continuing to grow in prominence and possess similar attributes to multinational corporations. However, there is currently a lack of knowledge around the internationalisation of sports in business literature. Research is heavily centred on the sport of soccer, with a focus on historical accounts of how sport has shaped national identities of nations and the cross-national diffusion of sports across national borders. This research has been driven due to the focus on the topic by the fields of sociology and political science which both contribute heavily to the literature. This thesis aims to create a focus on emerging sports such as rugby, using real-time and current accounts of how internationalisation is currently being impacted and shifting the literature into the international business field. In order to do this, two research questions are asked: How is Rugby 7s internationalising? And How does Rugby 7s manage the key decision points in internationalisation? The use of decision points looks at going beyond applying theoretical frameworks to the research and directly seeks to find the key decisions that sports managers face when internationalising. This study is designed in an exploratory way with semi-structured interviews used to explore and better understand the phenomena of sports internationalisation. To ensure all perspectives from stakeholders were covered a single case study with embedded units was applied to the study. With the results of the interviews then triangulated with a secondary data set. The analysis of the findings shows the executives faced difficult decisions within the areas of market selection, mode of entry, adaptation and standardisation and long term commitment. The results show that Rugby 7s as a product has been heavily shaped by numerous forces such as culture and knowledge of the markets. With the events individually being unique, however, as a collective product Rugby 7s can be identified as one product as a ‘glocal’ approach has been implemented by executives. Further research should continue looking at other emerging sports to gain a wider understanding of sports internationalisation. By doing this it increases the knowledge and understanding of the phenomena and can be used to establish frameworks for future research.