Interorganisational conflict between national and provincial sport organisations within China’s elite sport system: perspectives from national organisations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Jinming Zheng
  • Wing Chung Lau
  • Geoff Dickson
  • Veerle De Bosscher
  • Qi Peng

Colleges, School and Institutes


This article examines interorganisational conflict between provincial and national sport organisations in China. The study is underpinned by the literature on interorganisational relationships particularly on interorganisational conflict. The three case studies are artistic gymnastics, swimming, and cycling. The primary data was generated via eleven semi-structured interviews with staff from the relevant national-level sport organisations. Secondary data was sourced from official publications, websites, and influential domestic media. The key finding is that, whilst famed for its top-down bureaucratic system, there is considerable interorganisational conflict within the Chinese sport system. The extent and characteristics of the national-provincial conflict vary between sports. But there is also some consistency regarding the causes of the conflict and the measures adopted to mitigate the tension. Interorganisational conflict provides a useful heuristic for articulating and understanding the interorganisational relationships within the Chinese elite sport system and hence advance elite sport management research.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-681
JournalSport Management Review
Issue number5
Early online date2 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Nov 2018


  • Conflict, Elite sport, Interorganisational relationships, Olympic games, Power