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A new conceptualization of mega sports event legacy delivery: Wicked problems and critical realist solution

Byers, Terri, Hayday, Emily Jane, Pappous, Athanasios (2019) A new conceptualization of mega sports event legacy delivery: Wicked problems and critical realist solution. Sport Management Review, 23 (2). pp. 171-182. ISSN 1441-3523. (doi:10.1016/j.smr.2019.04.001) (KAR id:74567)


The authors present a new conceptualization of mega sport event legacy delivery, which accounts for the problematic nature of legacy by viewing it as a wicked problem. Research on mega sport event legacy has focused on establishing typologies of legacy, investigating outcomes, and consequences, with limited attention to legacy delivery. The conceptualization of legacy delivery has largely relied on a positive, utopian legacy rhetoric. In contrast, the authors advance the understanding of legacy by proposing a conceptual approach of the legacy delivery process, to enable empirical studies in different contexts to be conducted. Specifically, the authors examine the wicked problem of mega sport event legacy delivery from a Critical Realist perspective, which serves to give meaning and order to this complex process. This conceptualization reveals that legacy delivery is inclusive of deep social structures which underpin different stakeholders’ interpretations and interactions, which produce or limit legacy delivery. The role of social, generative structures as causal mechanisms has not been considered as a way to understand legacy delivery previously. Implications for teaching, research, and practice are discussed to demonstrate the value of this new approach. Importantly, this conceptualization focuses on processes rather than outcomes and encourages the identification of unexpected or unanticipated components of legacy delivery beyond the formal policies and plans designed to create or leverage legacy.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.smr.2019.04.001
Uncontrolled keywords: Critical realism, Wicked problems, Legacy delivery, Conceptualization, Mega sports events, Leveraging
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation. Leisure > Sports sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: Athanasios Pappous
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2019 08:34 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2022 23:10 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Hayday, Emily Jane.

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Pappous, Athanasios.

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