Strategic Benefits of the Charities Associated with the Premier League and its Club Members: a Stakeholder Value Perspective

  • Marcelo Castro

Student thesis: Doctor of Business Administration


This dissertation is framed from a business in society perspective, meaning that it is interested in advancing our understanding on the impact of businesses within the communities in which they operate. In particular, the direction of this dissertation is to focus on the value that the charities associated with England’s football (soccer) Premier League create for the league, its club members and the external stakeholders that co-fund their social action projects. In doing so, this research project contributes a conceptual construct (social stretch) as explanatory model on why clubs earn distinct strategic benefits from social action. Furthermore, it offers a plausible process on how signals of trustworthiness from the league translate into factors for stakeholder value for the external groups that co-develop, co-fund and co-execute these social schemes. Lastly, this learning allows me to offer a prescriptive process framework for practitioners aiming at integrating commercial, football and social objectives. The above is reflected in the three papers that I summarize below. Paper 1 is an empirical paper which operationalises the two processes within the Corporate Social Strategy (CSS) framework: strategic social positioning and strategic social planning. This allows me to offer and test a typology of what I term social stretch (satisficing, embedded, bounded and ideal identity), in order to explain the distinct ways football clubs stretch their standards and expectations to fulfil a shared social ambition emerging from a collective identity. This is important, since social stretch has an effect on the strategic benefits that clubs may gain from their social action schemes. The paper extends existing theory by offering a conceptual contribution (the concept of social stretch) and a contextual contribution based on its multi-level approach: geographical (local, national and international) and organisational (league and club levels). Paper 2 is also an empirical paper which addresses value co-creation from a social sustainability perspective. I develop and test a conceptual framework by which the interlinked practices of the Premier League emit trustworthiness signals which translate into factors for stakeholder value for external stakeholders groups. The paper makes a conceptual contribution in the form of a process for stakeholder value creation/destruction based on the congruence/incongruence of the trustworthiness signals embedded in all the practices from the PL. Furthermore, its multi-stakeholder approach is a contextual contribution which offers a vivid account of the complexity and tensions that result from managing the divergent interests of legitimate stakeholders. Paper 3 is a conceptual paper which introduces a novel process framework for collaborative value co-creation based on the P.A.S.C.A.L. ethical decision-making process introduced by Goodpaster (1991). It aims at offering practitioners a plausible way to integrate commercial, football and social objectives within the normative considerations that demand attention to stakeholder interests. The paper makes a contextual contribution since the proposed framework could be applied beyond this setting. Furthermore, it organises and integrates existing literature in a novel and practical way. Lastly, when the three papers are analysed holistically, this research makes an additional theoretical contribution by shedding light on the paradox of social stretch. The evidence shows that those clubs that pursue social action as an end in itself appear to be, paradoxically, those that also gain competitive advantage from social action and also appear to co-create the most value from their social schemes due to how stakeholders reciprocate to the congruence of their trustworthiness signals. The planning and execution of this research, its theoretical and practical contributions and the writing of the three papers that resulted from this effort, were carried on by the candida
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPaul Jackson (Supervisor) & Peter Kawalek (Supervisor)


  • CSR
  • Trustworthiness Signals
  • Stakeholder Value
  • Value co-creation
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Stakeholder Theory
  • Social Stretch

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