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Same But Different? Exploring the Organizational Identities of Swedish Voluntary Sports: Possible Implications of Sports Clubs’ Self-Identification for Their Role as Implementers of Policy Objectives

The aim of this study is to contribute to the ongoing discussion of sports clubs’ propensity to act as policy implementers. Theoretically, we conceptualize this propensity as contingent on an alignment between a sports club’s organizational identity and the cultural material, that is, ends and means of a given policy. Building on data from short, qualitative interviews with representatives of 218 randomly selected sports clubs, we construct 10 organizational identity categories. Between these categories, there is a variety of clubs’ core purposes, practices and logics of action. The implications of this heterogeneity, in terms of sports clubs’ propensity to act as policy implementers, is discussed with reference to what clubs in each category might ‘imagine doing’. Also discussed are three avenues by which institutional conditions might affect the formation and change of sports clubs’ organizational identity, in turn having implications for their role as implementers.