Time to Stop Playing Games with Industrial Policy? What Government and Business Might Learn from Team GB

A seminar as part of the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre Public Seminar Series

Given by: Dr Sue Konzelman,  Department of Management, Birkbeck College, University of London.

Room B34
Malet Street Building
Birkbeck College
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX

Monday 31st October 2016 at 6.15 pm

For directions click here.

Attendance at the event is free but you need TO REGISTER.


For the last three years Dr Sue Konzelmann, and Mr Marc Marc Fovargue-Davies, have been carrying out an extensive series of qualitative interviews with representatives of key stakeholders in the UK sport system. At the heart of this research is an attempt to evaluate what can be deduced from the success of UK Sport’s “industrial policy” in the sport sector, as evidenced by the spectacular performance of Team GB in the Rio Olympic Games, which might inform industrial policy in the wider UK economy.

UK elite sport has been on a sustained upward trajectory, as a result of fundamental changes in approach following its dismal showing at the Atlanta Summer Games in 1996. These included recasting the relationship between elite sport and the state, alterations in institutional and legal structures – and much improved funding. The changes in the environment within which elite sport operates were accompanied by a complete change of culture: Ambition, tempered by a clear, strategic focus on how to realise it was evident from the start. The result was apparent as soon as the following Summer Games in Sydney – and at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, Team GB beat its record at London 2012, moving from a world ranking of 3rd to 2nd. With a medal haul of 67, the UK became the first nation in history to improve its medal winning performance following a home games, winning more medals across more sports by more athletes – although the ambition for Tokyo 2020 is to improve even further.

In this presentation, Dr Sue Konzelmann  does not try to argue that the strategy used to transform the performance of elite sport should be directly transferred to industry. Indeed, although the UK elite sport strategy was itself informed by those developed by other nations, it was not a carbon copy. And as it has continued to evolve, there has been a conscious effort to make it fit with British culture. Rather, drawing on extensive joint research with Marc Fovargue-Davies, she will argue that drawing on the ideas and approaches developed by the elite sport policy model, a strategy with some similarities, but based on the specific needs of contemporary and future industrial ecosystems, could pay significant dividends.


Sue Konzelmann is a Reader in Management at Birkbeck, University of London. She is also Director of the London Centre for Corporate Governance and Ethics, Co-Executive Editor of the Cambridge Journal of Economics and a Research Associate in the Cambridge University Centre for Business Research.

Sue’s research brings together historical, economic, social and political perspectives to explore a range of different areas, most recently the political economics of austerity and the ‘variety’ within liberal capitalism that became apparent in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. The current phase of this research considers the alternatives to austerity, including industrial strategy, social policy and financial reform, with the aim of informing theory and practice as well as policy. She is particularly interested in how the interaction of societal, economic and political forces shapes the direction of theory and policy – and how this, in turn, influences developments in global financial markets and the broader economic system in which they are embedded. Sue has also conducted comparative work on corporate and industrial restructuring; and on corporate governance and HRM, considering the degree to which corporate governance might serve as a constraint on the ability of senior managers to effectively manage their human resources as a consequence of the need to prioritize the interests of shareholders over all other corporate stakeholders – workers, in particular. She has also explored the dynamic processes underpinning the spread of national varieties of capitalism by means of approaches taken by multi-national firms. For further information, including a list of publications, please visit the the following webpage.


Contact Details

Seminar Series Details

For further details on this seminar series contact:

Sean Hamil
Department of Management
Birkbeck College
Malet Street

Tel: 020-7631 6763


Twitter: @Birkbecksport




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