Social legacy of mega sport events: individual, organisational and societal implications of the London 2012 Games Maker Programme

Nedvetskaya, Olesya (2015) Social legacy of mega sport events: individual, organisational and societal implications of the London 2012 Games Maker Programme. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis was focussed on volunteering as a social legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (London 2012). The study identified a research gap with regard to the details on the processes through which the volunteering legacy can be achieved, for whom, in what circumstances and over which duration. Therefore, the overall purpose of this research was to explore the processes by which the London 2012 Volunteer Programme (the Games Maker Programme) was used to deliver a desired social legacy in the historical context of sport event volunteering in the UK, such as the XVII Commonwealth Games in Manchester (Manchester 2002), their Pre-Volunteer Programme (PVP) and Manchester Event Volunteers (MEV). This was done by means of examining volunteering experiences and volunteer management practices in the context of the Olympics as the least explored form of the Games-related legacy.

The uniqueness and strength of this research was in its empirically grounded and historically informed case study with an embedded single-case design with multiple units of analysis, where the case was the Games Maker Programme and units of analysis – different aspects of the Programme. The study employed critical realism and interpretative constructivism as the basis of its philosophical framework. It used a ‘realist’ approach drawing on the basis of realist evaluation: context + mechanism = outcome (Pawson and Tilley, 1997). Elements of the Programme became the mechanisms activated under certain conditions (contexts) to trigger certain outcomes. A two-layered theoretical framework was applied to help study volunteering in the context of the Olympics. The research utilised the Legacy Cube by Preuss (2007) as an outer layer of the framework to help identify positive and negative, planned and unplanned, tangible and intangible structures associated with a social legacy and analyse them at specific time and space. The Volunteer Process Model by Omoto and Snyder (2002) served as an inner-layer of the framework that helped explore more in-depth personal attributes of London 2012 volunteers (Individual level), processes, experiences and consequences of their involvement, as well as the ingrained nature of volunteering in the institutional and cultural environments (Organisational and Societal levels).

Longitudinal time horizon and mixed methods were used to collect a richer and stronger array of evidence to address the research aims and questions. Qualitative evidence included various documents, in-depth semi-structured interviews with volunteers (before and after London 2012) and managers (after London 2012), as well as participant observations carried out by the researcher before and during the Games. These qualitative elements were supplemented with an on-line survey of a broader cross section of volunteers. Thematic analysis was used to make sense of the large volume of data and provide foundations for the results and a subsequent discussion.

The findings revealed that the London 2012 Volunteering Strategy had multiple stakeholders and aims, from running an excellent Games-time Volunteer Programme to creating a sustainable social legacy. Competing demands, poor coordination, the confusion over who is responsible for what outcomes, the lack of specific plans on how to achieve these outcomes and external factors related to changes in political environment and worsened socio-economic conditions in the UK contributed to a legacy not being realised to the extent it was hoped for. Therefore, declared commitments to Excellence, Equality and Diversity, One Games, UK-Wide, Exchange, Legacy and Partnership were limited in their capacity. Ultimately, the need to deliver the Games took a priority. Although the Games Maker Programme appeared to achieve its target to recruit, train and manage 70,000 volunteers to work in 3,500 Games-time roles, organisers were not always effective in providing volunteers with the best experience, which largely depended on volunteer roles, placements and a management style of immediate managers and team leaders. It came across as a surprising outcome, given that the successful organisation of the Games was largely in hands of volunteers. Therefore, if the commitment is to have an exemplary Games-time Volunteer Programme, then a priority should be to make those who freely devote their time and effort feel valued and provide them with an array of opportunities and benefits that encourage positive experiences. This, potentially, can contribute to a sustainable volunteering legacy beyond the Games.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: The Olympic and Paralympic Games, London 2012, mega sport event, volunteering, social legacy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Purcell, Mr. Rod and Hastings, Professor Annette
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Olesya Nedvetskaya
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6612
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2015 09:10
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2015 08:37

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