Numbers > Number 16 > Data, analytics and digitization as keys to the future in public and private sports management
ISSN: 1885-365X
GALLARDO GUERRERO, Leonor Contact 0000-0002-6296-6121
GARCÍA UNANUE, Jorge Contact 0000-0002-1741-5566

Data, analytics and digitization as keys to the future in public and private sports management

4 de noviembre de 2019
9 de diciembre de 2019


Digital transformation is one of the fundamental pillars of evolution in all economic sectors. Among them, the sport sector is particularly affected, combined with the transformation of altruism to professionalization in management. This study presents the results of two research studies on competence development and trends in the field of Sport Management. In the first one, the level of implementation of management tools between public and private sports services is compared, concluding that the use of big data is the tool that requires further development for the future success of sport organizations. In the second one, the current and future competencies for the correct management of sports services are analysed, highlighting how at present there is a development of competences based on digitalization and management of the data below the average, however they are those that require greater development for the professional future of sport managers.



The scientific literature has shown that, in many cases, the best way to identify the keys in the keys to management in certain services is to compare and analyze the differences between the public and private sectors. Thus, since the entry into the New Public Management ideology with the publication of Hood’s work (1991), research and practice in the provision of public services has increasingly brought municipal management closer to business culture (Pérez -Lopez, Prior and Zafra-Gómez, 2015). In this way, we find an extensive literature in which a multitude of theories and interpretations are intertwined to determine the principles that should govern public and private management, with the aim of achieving maximum efficiency and quality in each case.

Municipal governments and their different services have been especially affected by the reforms that are being carried out in the public sector (Ammons and Rivenbarck, 2008; Buch-Gómez and Cabaleiro-Casal, 2011; Kloot and Martin, 2000; Navarro-Galera , Ortiz-Rodríguez and López-Hernández, 2008; Torres, Pina and Yetano, 2011; Pollanen, 2011). Its role is increasingly important in improving the efficiency and equity of public services, as well as for economic and social development. In addition, it is frequent that more progress is made in this type of reforms at the sub-state level (Pollit and Bouckaert, 2011) and, therefore, there is greater knowledge about their consequences at the municipal level.

Thus, this search for balance and efficiency in service management has been determined by analyzing differences in different areas. Autonomy in decision making (Desmarais and Abord De Chatillon, 2010), professionalization and evolution in the position (Willem, De Vos and Buelens, 2010) or the principles and values ​​in management (Van Der Wal, De Graaf and Lasthuizen, 2008). However, the area in which the greatest evolution is observed is the adaptation and use of management tools (Arnaboldi and Lapsley, 2003; Bowerman, Ball and Francis, 2001; Navarro-Galera, Ortiz-Rodríguez and López Hernández, 2008; Ter Bogt and Van Helden, 2011; Van Helden, Aardema, Ter Bogt and Groot, 2010). At this point, the bibliography so far highlights a clear booming and evolving sector: data, analytics and digitization.

While in the 90s companies and administrations highlighted basic aspects such as quality management or strategic planning as the most important management tools (Rigby and Bilodeau, 2019), it is from the year 2000 when they started to highlight tools based on the measurement, control and use of data, such as managerial accounting or data benchmarking (Ripoll and Urquidi, 2010). Initially, these tools were based on the use of small amounts of data for accountability purposes (Navarro-Galera, Ortiz-Rodríguez and López Hernández, 2008), however, the use of data-driven and big data They have become a reality with the entry into play of the famous concept of Smart City (Fitzgerald, 2016; Silva et al., 2018). Currently, management tools such as advanced analytics or digital transformation are among the 10 most notable trends in the business sector (Rigby and Bilodeau, 2019), so public services will soon reach them.

Among all the services that can be developed both in a public and private environment, and that have therefore been influenced by this evolution in management models, we find sports services (García-Unanue, Felipe and Gallardo, 2015; García- Unanue, Felipe, Gómez-González, del Corral and Gallardo, 2016). Sports services acquire special importance in the municipalities. This area has the objective of giving access to the entire population to sports practice and trying to increase levels of sports practice (Liu, 2009). To do this, the municipalities control sports facilities and services, both public and private, and promotes local sports associations (Benito, Solana and Moreno, 2012; Burillo, Barajas, Gallardo and García-Tascón, 2011; Liu, Taylor and Shibli , 2007). In Spain, the dimension of this service at the municipal level acquires great relevance, given that it is the Public Administration with the highest expenditure on sport, owning the majority of sports facilities for public use and supporting the largest variety of practitioners (Burillo et al., 2011; Gallardo, Burillo, García-Tascón, and Salinero, 2009; García-Unanue, Felipe and Gallardo, 2015). As a public service of direct provision to a consumer, and being a sector that also presents a private offer, the management of these services requires greater control and effort over their productivity and performance (Walker, Brewer, Boyne and Avellaneda, 2004).

The usefulness of data-driven in customer management has been demonstrated, being able to predict with great success the casualties in sports facilities (Clavel San Emeterio, Iglesias-Soler, Gallardo, Rodríguez-Cañamero and García-Unanue, 2016). However, again there are differences in the way in which this tool can be implemented in the public and private sector (Clavel San Emeterio, García-Unanue, Iglesias-Soler, Felipe and Gallardo, 2019; Clavel San Emeterio, García-Unanue, Iglesias-Soler, Gallardo and Felipe, 2020).

However, to date, no study has been carried out to analyze the profile or preferences of the sports manager in relation to new technologies, big data or data driven, differentiating according to the type of management, public or private. Gallardo, García- Tascón, Burillo and Salinero (2008) demonstrated many similarities between both sectors, as both pursue excellence in their objectives, optimizing the available resources as much as possible. However, although these objectives may be similar, their organization and the methods they carry out do differ greatly. Thus, Gallardo et al. (2009) demonstrate that, although the needs and problems are similar, the private sector uses more variety of management tools. Despite this, García-Unanue (2016) suggests that the level of professionalization and knowledge between public and private sector sports managers is very similar, as well as the problems they face, although the public sector has much less margin for innovation and development.

Therefore, these studies allow us to conclude the need to further study the current situation of each sector, and what their differences are, in terms of the level of use and utility of data-based management. Thus, the objective of this study is to analyze the usefulness and level of use of different management tools and the evolution of the skills of sports managers towards big data and digitization, comparing between the public and private sectors.

For this, two different studies will be used as a reference to cover the different research questions. The first will compare the level of implementation of management tools between public and private sports services. In the second, current and future competencies for the correct management of sports services will be analyzed. In both cases, it will be observed how new technologies, the use of data, analytics and digital information will be the keys to the future in Sports Management, replacing the classic management strategies. The work will be followed by a methodology, and then proceed to the presentation of the results and discussion, ending with the conclusions.

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