Enablers and Inhibitors to Digital Technology Adoption – In Australian Community Sports Organisations
Facebook Icon to Share Blogs
LinkedIn Icon to Share Blogs

Enablers and Inhibitors to Digital Technology Adoption – In Australian Community Sports Organisations

The following article is a summary of the conference paper that has been accepted for presentation at the Sports Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ) to be held in Canberra at the University of Canberra from 29th November to 1st December 2023 (https://www.smaanz.org/2023-smaanz-conference ). The paper is based on research conducted into the level of digital technology adoption by Australian Community Sports Organisations.


Introduction and Background

Sports Organisations benefit from the adoption of digital technology and the use of data analytics (Troilo, Bouchet, Urban and Sutton, 2016). Hoeber and Hoeber (2012) found the factors that enable technology adoption, include managerial, organisational and environmental factors.

This may be the case in well-resourced, early-adopter, innovative sports organisations with a well-trained and motivated workforce, with the skills and capabilities to implement the technological accelerators. This is not the case of the low-resourced, laggard adoption, less innovative organisations, with little to no skills and capabilities in technology implementation and ongoing use. These are the characteristics of the not-for-profit, community sports clubs and leagues, predominantly reliant on volunteers as their workforce (Sport Australia, 2022).

To enable technology adoption and ongoing use requires organisational capacity building of community sports organisations (CSOs). Organisational innovation is one of the crucial aspects of technology capacity building (Doherty and Cuskelly, 2020). Transfer of knowledge from technology-capable staff and volunteers through coordinated training and technical support are success factors (Delshab et al., 2020). Best, Sibson and Morgan (2021) identified the norms and social systems of state sports associations (SSA) as an inhibitor to technology adoption. This deficiency is enhanced by the low level of technology capabilities, and embedded cultural resistance of not-for-profit CSOs. This results in a cultural barrier to technology use (Ratten, 2020).


Purpose of Research

The purpose of this research is to identify the level of technology adoption in CSOs and to identify the enablers and inhibitors to this implementation and ongoing use of technology.


Method, Analysis and Findings

The current research was a preliminary exploratory study consisting of semi-structured interviews, conducted with four committees of athletics community sports clubs in Sydney. Non-probability quota sampling was used, with two large clubs of greater than 250 members and two medium clubs of between 100-250 members being approached and accepted for the interview. The analysis used the three-phase content analysis method of preparation, organisation and reporting (Elo and Kyngäs, 2008). Content analysis is an appropriate application to the interview data to identify categories and themes, which allowed a deductive content analysis, to provide structure to the verbatim text, enabling comparisons with previous studies and findings.

The findings identified similar categories and themes as those outlined above from previous studies. The lack of enablers identified was the low level of financial and time resources (Doherty and Cuskelly, 2020). Inhibitors identified from the study included the lack of skills and cultural resistance at the committee and officials’ level to implement (Ratten, 2020). Another common inhibitor identified was the lack of clear direction and leadership, training and support provided by the SSAs to assist in technology adoption as found by Best, Sibson and Morgan (2021).

The next stage of this research project is to gain a further understanding of CSOs from the perspective of SSA. This will be achieved through the triangulation of the research method through the use of semi-structured interviews and an online survey of CSOs. Also, interview the SSAs and national level organisations on their expectations and plans for technology adoption and use.



Best. A, Sibson. R and Morgan. A (2021): Technology adoption and use in not-for-profit sport: a case study of an Australian state sporting association, Managing Sport and Leisure, DOI: 10.1080/23750472.2021.2020678.

Delshab, V., Winand, M., Sadeghi Boroujerdi, S., Hoeber, L., & Mahmoudian, A. (2020). The impact of knowledge management on performance in nonprofit sports clubs: The mediating role of attitude toward innovation, open innovation, and innovativeness. European Sport Management Quarterly, Pages 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/16184742.2020.1768572

Doherty, A. and Cuskelly, G. (2020) Organizational Capacity and Performance of Community Sports Clubs, Journal of Sport Management, 34, Pages 240-259, https://doi.org/10.1123/jsm.2019-0098

Elo S and Kyngas H (2008) The qualitative content analysis process, Journal of Advanced Nursing,  Volume62, Issue1 April 2008, Pages 107-115, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2007.04569.x

Hoeber, L., & Hoeber, O. (2012). Determinants of an innovation process: A case study of technological innovation in a community sport organization. Journal of Sport Management, 26(3), Pages 213–223. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsm.26.3.213

Ratten, V. (2020). Sports Technology: A commentary. Journal of High Technology Management Research, 31(1).

Sport Australia (2022) The Future of Sport Volunteering, https://www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/kb/volunteers-in-sport

Troilo, M., Bouchet, A., Urban, T. L., & Sutton, W. A. (2016). Perception, reality, and the adoption of business analytics: Evidence from North American professional sports organizations. 59.


Dr Andrew West is an Adjunct Professor at UBSS and A Fellow of the Centre for Scholarship and Research