Configuring the Field of Play.pdf

Configuring the Field of Play.pdf - Journal of Management...

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Configuring the Field of Play: How Hosting the Olympic Games Impacts Civic Community Mary Ann Glynn Boston College, Carroll School of Management abstract I theorize and empirically illustrate how the mega-event of the Olympic Games configures relational and symbolic systems within the host city. I focus on a field at the level of the local geographic community and explore how city character and traditions enable both persistence and change in institutional elements even when potentially disruptive events occur. I present two exploratory studies. The first shows how the event of the Olympics is rooted in the local field of the host city but varies by communities; the second explores the dynamics of configuring the field of one Olympic city: Atlanta, host of the 1996 Olympic Games. INTRODUCTION Over the last quarter-century, a number of cities have pursued a strategy of hosting mega-events (Burbank et al., 2001) to boost their reputations or economies. The mega- event of choice has been the Olympic Games, one of ‘the most visible rituals dramatizing the world polity’ (Boli and Thomas, 1997, p. 183). Urban interest in the Olympics was ignited by the unexpected success of the Los Angeles games in 1984: ‘For city leaders looking to refurbish their city’s image and get the attention of business around the world, hosting the Olympics now appeared to offer a perfect way to do both with little cost to local taxpayers’ (Burbank et al., 2001, p. 5). Subsequent cities hosting the games gener- ally realized largely positive returns (e.g. Andranovich et al., 2001; Miyazaki and Morgan, 2001). The event of hosting the Olympics offers a potent site for examining field-configuring dynamics (Meyer et al., 2005, p. 467) at the level of the local geographic community, a needed perspective in organizational theorizing (Marquis et al., 2007). Fields produce both stability and change by moving constituent institutional elements ‘from place to place and time to time with the help of carriers’ (Scott, 2003, p. 879). I focus on two of these carriers (Scott, 2003) – symbolic systems and relational systems – and show how they are key motors of field configuration (and reconfiguration) for Olympic cities. Address for reprints : Mary Ann Glynn, Boston College, Carroll School of Management, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA ([email protected]). © Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2008. Published by Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA. Journal of Management Studies 45:6 September 2008 0022-2380
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Relational systems are networks that connect individual and institutional actors within a field; for the Olympics, these include athletes, city mayors, corporate sponsors, governments, fans, and Olympic committees at the city, national and international levels. Symbolic systems codify core meanings in logos, phrases, images or other rep- resentations, such as the Olympic flame, the five rings, or the mantra ‘Celtius, Altius, Fortius’ (faster, higher, stronger). Olympism supplies an ideology for the event, with norms and beliefs (e.g. human striving and excellence), action templates (e.g. sporting
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  • Spring '17
  • Management, Olympic Games, Blackwell Publishing, symbolic systems, Relational Systems, M. A. Glynn

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