Sensemaking of novelty: the dynamic nature of integrating esports within a traditional sport organization

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Novel innovations influence the way sports organizations are managed. Sport organizations must embrace these innovations for growth opportunities yet also proactively account for the dynamics associated with their integration. Hence, we examine the investment of a professional sport franchise in an esports team and the emergent challenges and opportunities. We adopt a strategy-as-practice (SAP) perspective to examine the deliberate sensemaking strategies used by practitioners within the sport franchise to help create and give meaning to this decision. We augmented interviews with press releases and media coverage, revealing that practitioners used sensemaking strategies initially to foster a progressive culture, create a shared understanding of esports, and promote operational synergies. Subsequent managerial and operational changes required tactical shifts to address gender stigmas and brand demarcation limiting cross-promotion between the sport franchise and esports team. We contribute to the growing SAP perspective by identifying that practitioners engaging in deliberate strategy can proactively utilize sensegiving, sensebreaking, and sensehiding strategies to integrate and legitimize novel activities within an organization and position them to external stakeholders.




This article is the authors' final published version in Sport Management Review, Volume 25, Issue 3, June 2021, Pages 383-405.

The published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1080/14413523.2021.1935609. Copyright © Informa UK Limited