Research question: This paper explores the extent to which nations prioritise elite sport funding; whether such nations are more successful than those whose funding is more diversified; and, if the sports that receive the most funding are also the most successful. Research methods: Data on public expenditure for elite sport programmes (2011/2012) were collected on a sport-specific basis in 16 nations (n = 445 funded sports). The Herfindahl index and concentration ratios of the four/eight most funded sports (CR4/CR8) are used as proxies for prioritisation. Success was measured using top three and top eight places during the Olympic Games and World Championships. Descriptive analysis and linear regression are applied to identify the relationship between the distribution of funding and success. Results and findings: Generally, all sample nations are prioritisers. Nations with smaller total elite sport budgets tended to prioritise more. There is a slight negative association between the distribution of funding within a country and subsequent success, indicating that the sample countries that prioritise more tended to be less successful. Sample nations that diversify their funding more, are found to be successful in a wider range of sports. In addition, the data illustrated only low allocative efficiency for some nations. Implications: The study produced ambiguous conclusions that prioritisation as a deliberate strategic choice is an efficient way to invest funding. The findings have important implications for high-performance managers and suggest that a more diverse resource allocation policy may help to avoid unintended negative consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-243
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Sport Management Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019

    Research areas

  • allocative efficiency, elite sport policy, prioritisation, SPLISS, Targeted funding

ID: 40166478