Improving service-center employees’ performance by means of a sport sponsorship

Ulrik Wagner*, Kristian Rune Hansen, Mette Lund Kristensen, Malene Josty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose: Sponsorships targeting an internal audience, e.g. employees, are still under-researched. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how employees perceive and evaluate a sponsorship that is designed with the purpose of improving customer services and explore how the company may benefit from the sponsorship. Design/methodology/approach: The study is anchored in critical realism and based on a single case study using multiple methods. The authors survey the impact of the sponsorship on employees’ (n=653) perceptions of their ability to communicate with customers, to perform their personal best, to engage in teamwork, as well as employee retention. The authors use individual and group interviews to qualify the analysis and the access to company data on customer satisfaction rates to provide an indication of the effect of the sponsorship. Findings: Results indicate that close to half the employees respond that the campaign positively impacted their ability to communicate, improve personal performance and to engage in teamwork. The analysis also reveals that the commitment of the direct leader has an impact on employees’ interest and commitment to the campaign. Data on customer satisfaction show that reducing the number of dissatisfied customers and increasing the number of customers willing to recommend the company to others has been accomplished, thus indicating that the sponsorship has had a positive impact on company performance. Originality/value: By combining sponsorship research with insights from the HRM literature, the study provides empirically based knowledge to the hitherto limited research on the internal audience of sponsorships. The study provides a plausible indication of a positive relation between a sponsorship design and company performance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)43-60
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 4. Feb 2019


  • Critical realism
  • Human resource management
  • Internal audience
  • Middle managers
  • Olympic rowing
  • Service-center employees


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