Strategic characteristics of sport and recreation provision: An application of SPACE analysis

Angela Benson, S. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The UK sport and recreation provision has fragmented into competing enterprises from the public, private and hybrid sectors. Although the policy background to these developments is well covered in the literature, there is relatively little research on the competitive characteristics of these new conditions, nor on how individual sport and recreation managers can formalize their knowledge of local competitive conditions to devise appropriate strategic responses. This paper attempts to provide such an analysis in a way useful to both practitioners and scholars. A reputable strategic management model is used to classify enterprises according to their strategic positioning and capacity for adaptation by assessing environmental conditions, financial resources and competitive strengths of 83 centres that provide sport and recreation facilities and services. The managerial implications of each classification are explored by case studies. The paper then looks at the characteristics of sport and recreation providers in two ways. Firstly, managerial indicators are examined in relation to the classification system and secondly, exceptional performers are examined in more detail, again to find significant managerial implications. The paper concludes that almost all the variation between enterprises can be explained by environment and ownership, thus greatly undermining both generalized, sector level initiatives and the exhortations of some scholars to follow particular prescriptive management styles and paths.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-267
Number of pages17
JournalManaging Leisure
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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