Examining the Innovation Process of a Graduate Apprenticeship Program for Sport Organizations


  • Sean Flanders East Tennessee State University
  • Natalie L. Smith East Tennessee State University https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7937-2688
  • Charles W. Jones East Tennessee State University
  • Amy Greene East Tennessee State University




sport, innovation process, determinants, graduate apprenticeships


This case study analyzed the innovation processes that led to the adoption of a work-integrated learning program among several sport organizations. A comparative case study analysis was used to deduce the commonly shared determinants between each of the sport organizations. Notably, having an innovation champion was a key determination. As well, lack of resources regarding staffing, the involvement of the managers with the participating higher education institution, the ease of contract design, and access to good candidates for the program were also influential in the innovation process. This study revealed, for sport organizations facing similar issues, that the graduate apprenticeship program could provide benefits. As well for sport management program, it could provide a stronger relationship with regional sport organizations. This research also extends the body of research regarding the underlying mechanisms by which sport organizations innovate generally.

Author Biographies

Sean Flanders, East Tennessee State University

Sean Flanders, MS, is a graduate assistant in the Department of Sport, Exercise, Recreation, and Kinesiology at East Tennessee State University. His research interests include creativity, coaching and weightlifting.

Natalie L. Smith, East Tennessee State University

Natalie L. Smith, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Sport, Exercise, Recreation, and Kinesiology at East Tennessee State University. Her research interests include creativity and innovation in sport and organizational behavior.

Charles W. Jones, East Tennessee State University

Charles W. Jones, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Sport, Exercise, Recreation, and Kinesiology at East Tennessee State University. His research interests include sport marketing and sport consumer behavior.

Amy Greene, East Tennessee State University

Amanda Greene, EdD, is an associate professor in the Department of Sport, Exercise, Recreation, and Kinesiology at East Tennessee State University. Her research interests include sport consumer behavior and consumer journey mapping.



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