Publication Details

Cole, T. & Dawson, P. (2010). Footy mates and football professionals: A case study of change at an Australian rules football club. 24th Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management Conference (pp. 1-18). Adelaide: ANZAM.


This paper examines how culture, structure and practice can impede processes of organisational change in examining the formation and development of the Adelaide Football Club (AFC). It charts processes of professionalisation and innovation from the initial formation of the club through to current operations as a South Australian club within the Australian Football League (AFL). A processual framework is utilised in exploring processes of change and the influence of substantive issues, contextual conditions and political decision-making within a local and national sporting environment. Particular attention is given to the history and culture of AFL developments and the transition of AFC from a state based initiative to a professional football club. The unfolding nature of change is highlighted in the interplay of proactive decisions and events with more reactive responses to unforseen occurrences and the way that these are played out within both national and local arenas in which certain key stakeholders can significantly shape the speed and direction of change. The paper concludes by raising the question of ‘success’ in evaluating performance of these types of organizations that seek to win sporting competitions whilst maintaining a healthy operating budget from which future strategies can be developed and implemented.