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About this book

This book is the first independent exploration of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA) institutional history. Virtually unexamined compared with similar institutions like the FIFA and the IOC, the FIA has nevertheless changed from being a small association in 1904 to becoming one of the world’s most influential sport governing bodies. Through chronologically organised chapters, this book explains how the FIA manages to link together motorsport circuses like Formula 1 with the automotive industry and societal issues like road safety and environmental sustainability. In an exciting narrative spanning seven decades, it reviews the FIA’s organisational turning points, governing controversies, political dramas and sporting tragedies.

Considering the FIA to be a unique type of hybrid organisation characterised by what the author calls ‘organisational emulsion’, this case study contains theoretical innovations relevant to other studies of sport governing bodies. It makes an empirically grounded contribution to the research fields of institutional logics, historical sociology and sport governance.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: A World in Motion

Abstract
This chapter starts with three ‘vignettes’ to exemplify why the institutional history of Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) is relevant as a case study of sport governing bodies and organisational change. Current activities of the FIA are then contrasted with its first phase which began shortly after the previous centurial shift and continued until the outbreak of World War II, in which the car, for good and ill, came to be a driver of societal change. By integrating theories from historical sociology, institutional logics, and sport governance, the following section introduces the theoretical framework for this book. The aim is to establish FIA as a typical case in the field of sport governing bodies and set a historical context necessary to interpret the maturation of the FIA between 1945 and 2020.
Hans Erik Næss

Chapter 2. Into the Modern Era of Sport: 1946–1981

Abstract
This chapter reviews the period between 1945 and 1981, where the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA’s) role in the governance of motorsport became transformed from a ‘members-only’ policy to catering to a wider network of stakeholders. Commercialisation processes skyrocketed with FIA allowing explicit sponsorships in Formula One (F1) in 1967, and the FIA became less able to defend its governance solutions from a position of tradition alone. This change primarily concerned the future of Commission Sportive Internationale (CSI), the sporting division of the FIA, and Jean-Marie Balestre’s election as CSI president in 1978. Eager to strengthen FIA’s control of Formula One, and renaming CSI as Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA), Balestre campaigned against the growing influence of Bernie Ecclestone and the Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA). Besides tracing the early battles of ‘the FISA-FOCA war’, as it came to be called, this chapter explores what made Balestre and Ecclestone institutional entrepreneurs in the FIA’s organisational development.
Hans Erik Næss

Chapter 3. Reaching Its Institutional Limits: 1981–1993

Abstract
By theorising the ‘compatibility’ and ‘centrality’ of different institutional logics as a way to assess the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA’s) organisational limits, this chapter reviews the FIA’s institutional integration of commercial, political, and sporting elements. After the Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA)–Formula One Constructors’ Association (FOCA) war ended in 1981 with the Concorde Agreement, Balestre reinforced his position by becoming president of both FISA and FIA in 1985. Shortly after, however, the organisation faced a new wave of criticism. This chapter therefore retraces the period between 1981 and 1993 by first reviewing the FIA’s inconsistent view of racing in apartheid South Africa, then it turns to the FIA World Rally Championship, whose early success was halted by sporting tragedies and hasty decisions by the FISA, leading to a lawsuit by Peugeot which threatened the FIA’s very existence. On top of that, the new Concorde Agreement signed in 1987 led the FIA into trouble as Balestre did not realise the extent of the new deal or the precedent it set of a relation with Ecclestone that for the FIA would prove difficult to survive without a considerable rethink.
Hans Erik Næss

Chapter 4. Changing the Rules of the Game: 1993–2009

Abstract
This chapter chronicles the career of Max Mosley as Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) president, a position he won from Jean-Marie Balestre in 1993 and held until 2009. A long-term ally of Bernie Ecclestone, as well as chair of the Manufacturer’s Commission at Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA) since 1985, Mosley exploited cracks in the FIA’s institutional design and rallied support among the FIA’s growing member club portfolio to refresh the organisation. What Mosley did not foresee during his institutional restructuring of the FIA into a modern-day broker of global motorsports was that the old relations between Ecclestone’s business and the FIA, as well as the interlacing of the FIA and other sectors of society would pose legal (competition laws) and moral challenges (political lobbying). In particular, this chapter reviews the relations between the FIA, Ecclestone, and the European Commission as these symbolise the changes to the FIA’s institutional logic in a multi-faceted way. As a result, Mosley and his crew developed in the end an operational policy which transformed the FIA into a managed ecosystem.
Hans Erik Næss

Chapter 5. From Small Association to Global Pundit: 2009–2020

Abstract
When Jean Todt became Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) president in 2009, he made good use of the Mosley legacy. At the same time, he engineered a series of new reforms that would mark the greatest difference between the old and the new FIA. This chapter explores a selection of organisational innovations during Todt’s three presidential periods (2009–2021). This selection includes two presidential elections in 2009 and 2013 which had a hitherto unrivalled emphasis on good governance, a political debacle (the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix), a structural revamp (the establishing the FIA Statutes Review), the introduction of an external audit (aided by consulting firm, Deloitte), and a proactive media strategy to comprehend a media logic (by publishing AUTO magazine from 2012 onwards). Together, this combination of substantive and symbolic actions represents the FIA’s desire to renew its legitimacy among its members, motorists, and other stakeholders.
Hans Erik Næss

Chapter 6. 2020 and Beyond: In a Phase of Organisational Emulsion

Abstract
This chapter synthesises the findings of previous chapters to advance a theoretical framework based on organisational emulsion. Derived from an empirical study of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), where various institutional logics coexist together due to the efforts of ‘emulsifying agents’, this framework contains a number of hybridity features that can be used to analyse other sport governing bodies or as a baseline from which to compare the FIA 2020 with its future self. Labelling the FIA as this organisational type makes it necessary to review typified strategic choices. Two interrelated themes in the Formula E (an electric car world championship)—sustainability and politics—are thus examined as a ‘litmus test’ of whether the institution facilitates innovation in the light of the concern the FIA shows for these issues in its strategic outlook towards 2030. The chapter ends with a claim that the FIA, regardless of the route chosen, will benefit from a historically informed analysis of organisational change when encountering upcoming problems.
Hans Erik Næss

Chapter 7. On Method

Abstract
This chapter explains the methodological approach used in this book and identifies four elements of extraordinary importance to a qualitative study: data transparency, data criticism, confirmability, and transferability. By reviewing these elements in light of the specific methods applied, the data sources that were explored, the interpretative choices made by the author, and the analytical tools used to discover patterns and contrasts in the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile’s institutional history, it systematises the research process in order to avoid any suspicion of arbitrariness.
Hans Erik Næss

Backmatter

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