Management Implications of Transitioning Between Leisure Service Providers: A Community Leisure Arts Program Case Study

Authors

  • Toni Liechty
  • M. Rebecca Genoe

Keywords:

Community-based leisure arts, privatization, program management, qualitative research, sectors of service provision

Abstract

Leisure services provided by different sectorslikely have different missions, goals, and policies, which can impactmanagement strategies and participants' experiences. In North America, leisureservices are becoming increasingly privatized (moving from the public toprivate sector), which necessitates research into how a transition from publicto private will affect existing user groups. The subject of this case studyarose with the closure of a neighbourhood recreation center and the resultingrelocation of a municipal pottery program to an alternate location under theadministration of a nonprofit organization with a cost-recovery mandate.The purpose of this study was to explore how the relocation of the programand transition between providers impacted stakeholders. By doing so, thisstudy sought to highlight management implications of such a transition. Weinterviewed students, instructors, and administrators prior to the transition andapproximately six to 10 months after the new program had begun. We digitallyrecorded, transcribed, and analyzed data thematically. The findings highlighted challenges related to communication, expectations, and differing perceptionsof the definition of a community-based program. Prior to the transition, some participants were nervous about possible changes; however, some were hopefulfor new opportunities. The lack of information from the administration aboutthe transition fostered negative speculation among students and instructors.After the transition, many participants expressed frustration with increasedprices, reduced services, and lack of opportunity to provide input. The mostdissatisfied students were generally those who had participated in the original program, because they had a source of comparison, greater investment in theprogram, and an established view as to the purpose of the program. This studyhighlights the challenges of transitioning between service providers (particularlywhen governmental funding is eliminated), which may be considered in thefuture as other community programs are privatized. The findings highlight the importance of direct communication and recognizing informal communicationthat occurs among users and staff. Furthermore, they highlight the importanceof understanding and recognizing that expectations (whether accurate orinaccurate) might be related to the sector and image of the organization. Leisureservice managers would benefit from recognizing the unique challenges oftransitioning an existing program as opposed to starting a new program. To do sosuccessfully, managers need to actively seek out the input of existing participantsand to communicate their intentions, limitations, and goals in order to increasebuy-in.ô€€‘ô€€ƒô€€ƒ

Published

2015-08-17

Issue

Section

Regular Papers