Succession in national physical culture and sports sector management in context of modern management methodologies


Dr.Hab., Professor V.N. Zuev1
PhD, Professor P.G. Smirnov2
1Tyumen State University, Tyumen
2Tyumen State Industrial University, Tyumen


Keywords: group, leader, management, physical culture and sports sector, management style, subculture.

Background. At the modern stage of the education management quality improvement and education system reform, a potential sector manager training process brings to the forefront a variety of problems with concern to the national physical culture and sport sector management efficiency at every level, as this efficiency largely depends on the quality of the specialists’ vocational training for the relevant civil and public government bodies. It is a common knowledge that leadership is a multifunctional political, social and economic phenomenon manifesting itself in every organized group in the context of priority group objectives. The current problems of the educational system to train a “modern competitive manager who, in addition to professional skills, has creative ideas and thinking and is focused on the result” [3] may not be solved by educational projects only. A retrospective analysis of the national physical culture and sports history gives the means to study in more detail our heritage on the whole and the management heritage of the federal government bodies and their leaders in particular.

As things now stand, the ongoing social and economic reforms need to be supported by facilitating information-and-research environment [3] in view of the fact that good sector leaders (top managers) are still viewed as the most critical intellectual and administrative resource of the sector.

A key inducement factor for the theoretical research study was the shortage of reports on the national sector leadership and further aggravation of the conflict between the following two factors: the growing need for strategic, innovative, reformative and corporate qualities of the competitive sector management staff to produce world-class leaders on the one hand, and the traditional university curricula based on the old educational and practical regulatory documents on the other hand.

Figure 1. Top managers of the national physical culture and sport sector agencies

Methods and structure of the study. The study was designed to apply the modern toolkit of the management theory, history, law and physical education systems including both general and special research tools as a methodological basis for the analysis [2].

We have studied the history of the national physical culture and sport sector management with a focus on careers of the sector leaders for the following two periods: Soviet period of 1919 -1991, and post-Soviet period of 1991 till now (see Figure 1 hereunder).Figure 1. Top managers of the national physical culture and sport sector agencies

Study results and discussion. The Soviet history of the national physical culture and sport management was largely made by 14 top managers of the sector who had retired for a variety of reasons, including repressions (in cases of V.M. Mikhaylov I.I. Kharchenko, A.P. Apollonov), with the average term at the office varying around 5 years – that was quite a common term for the-then staff-rotation policies and practices. As far as the careers of the most creative and effective sector leaders are concerned (N.N. Romanov, S.P. Pavlov), it should be mentioned that the sector reforms they initiated required much more time in fact.

In the post-Soviet period, the sector head office was subject to unreasonably frequent reforms focused on the top management responsibilities and even the office titles. Incumbent Russian Sport Minister V.L. Mutko is the ninth federal-level top manager of the sector demonstrating an outstanding longevity in this position. It may be pertinent to note that in the Soviet times the physical culture sector leaders came mostly from the military and Komsomol (Young Communist League) elites, whilst under the new democratic-style-focused leadership policies, the national physical culture and sport sector is managed by the most successful and competitive corporate VIPs.

The study data and analyses give us the reasons to note that the role of leadership and the most efficient management policies has been largely underestimated and, as a result, the sector management policies have been largely determined by the individual management styles of the leaders who were in charge of the national physical culture and sports movements in one or another period [1, 3, 4].

Having analyzed the sector management history based on a set of the process indicators including the leader’s type, historical and cultural context and the-then valid cooperation models that dictated the group subculture formation logic, a few basic forms of the management alliances in their “intra-team cultural context” were identified, as follows: dictator group; liberal group; party group and creative group [4].

1. Dictator group may be described as the management subculture based on the total subordination of each member to the group leader. It is a very stable group format, with every action of a group member being strictly determined; decisions being made in shortest terms; and the leader being vested with unlimited responsibilities to set policies and principles of interpersonal communications and interactions and directly control every process. It is the position of a group member in the intergroup hierarchy that determines his/ her role in the decision-making process. It should be noted that the decisions are made under direct political, social and economic pressures of the higher-level agencies on the leader. We believe that this type of the sector managers and management teams was modelled by the sector leaders who came to office in the times of Stalin’s autocracy (1919 – 1953). There are many reasons to believe that other forms of the sector management could unlikely be viable and effective enough at that time of the national history when the rule of the party and government “nomenclature” leaders was unlimited. It was only through the strict dictatorship and control that implied every mission of every group member being performed in a clockwork manner that the management teams in those days could set and successfully attain quite challenging goals.

2. Liberal group may be described as the management subculture dominated by absolute trust of every group member to the leader, with the group operations being free of any intergroup restrictions. When some management link is established in the group on the initiative and within the vision of the leader, it is normally done to improve the top manager’s charisma and support the subordinates in their vision of the prospects, albeit the general principles and standards of the distribution of responsibilities and resources are agreed with the leader [4].

Such alliances are normally quite unstable and operate within unclear borderlines, and this is the reason why they easily break down into smaller groups as soon as they face a crisis situation. However, alliances of this type give top priority to certain values like “...individual creativity, enthusiasm in new goals setting and project designing activity agreed with the leader’s vision, and preparedness for innovations” [4]. Key information is never let out to leak beyond the group as it is considered team-specific knowledge. This type of management was mostly common in the period of 1991-2002 dominated by the liberal mismanagement and unreasonable reforms in the national sport sector control agencies that resulted, among other things, in their functions and titles being revised ten times for 14 years. Regretfully, the system still lacks a strict management vertical line from the federal management agency down to the municipal sport establishment.

3. Party group may be defined as the team with responsibilities and operations strictly allocated within the group, as well as increased process formalization and standardization levels. Axiologically, the group gives a top priority to forecasts, parallel procedures and intra-group harmony. Every group member should perfectly know his/ her responsibilities and act strictly within the terms of reference. The responsibilities and functions are to be performed with an utmost precision [4]. Under this management format, the group leader acts rather as a team supervisor mostly responsible for communication of units and specialists within the group. The group efficiency is largely dependent on how efficient the staffing policies, delegation of responsibilities are and how personally responsible the executives are. In the Soviet period, this sector management type dominated in the second half of the 1980ies.

4. Creative group may be described as the alliance giving preference to open discussions of problems and constant circulation of the process data. The group mission is designed to solve the tasks through a sequence of concrete accomplishments [4]. Group members competent in certain issues come together to address the upcoming problems in the most timely and efficient format. The group leader is largely focused on establishing contacts, intra- and intergroup interactions and cooperation and mostly acts as a catalyst in these processes. Internally the group is organized in a matrix format that means that the small teams formed for special missions may be easily reformatted when the occasion requires. The leader must be reasonably flexible and confident in himself and his staff. Role of each group member is determined rather by his/ her professionalism and competences than the formal position or status [1, 4, 5].

Historically, the top management style in the creative group format has come up a few times in the context of the relative liberalization of the social and political processes in the country (in times of the “Khrushev’s thaw” and some other periods) and was associated with some breakthroughs in the sector reforming activities (in 1955-1985; and since 2002 till now). For example, the crisis management style implies high-intensity communication between different specialists being established to efficiently and timely solve multiple problems under extreme (from the viewpoint of management decision-making tradition) conditions. Such conditions and situations may be effectively addressed only when the decision-making process is based on a due teamwork with every management team member being prepared to substitute and support the others within the task team [1, 2, 4].


  • The top manager’s creativity, management culture and adaptive capability under critical conditions directly depend on the resource of the management subcultures created and accepted by the management team members.
  • The core values of genuine management culture have been largely neglected in the long periods when bureaucratic management principles and socialist collectivism ideology dominated in the society. As soon as the basics of the market-oriented economy were established in Russia, the core elements of entrepreneurial attitudes grew up in the sector management culture and trigged formation of the new group management subcultures.
  • Analysis of the almost 100-year-long history of the national physical culture and sports sector management shows the relevant efficiency of every leadership and team management style, particularly in the breakthrough decision-making and implementation processes both in the internal and foreign sport sector management policies.
  • We should recognize the undoubted accomplishments of the physical culture and sports sector management agencies in the past and present, including the Sports Festivals of the USSR/ Russian Nations; GTO Complex system; advanced education system; broad-based infrastructure of sport facilities in the country; and the leading role of the national sports in the global Olympic movement on the whole and many sport disciplines in particular.


  1. Bazarova K.T. Sotsial'no-psikhologicheskie faktory razvitiya liderskikh kachestv rukovoditelya: avtoref. dis. … kand. psh. nauk (Socio-psychological factors of leadership development head: Abstract of PhD thesis) / K.T. Bazarova. – Moscow, 2008.
  2. Zagvyazinskiy V.I. Obshchaya panorama pedagogicheskogo issledovaniya po problemam fizicheskoy kul'tury i sporta (Pedagogical research on problems of physical education and sport: Overview) / V.I. Zagvyazinskiy, I.V. Manzheley // Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. – 2016. – # 3. – P. 3-5.
  3. Zuev V.N. Kompetentnostny podkhod pri podgotovke potentsial'nogo menedzhera dlya otrasli fizicheskoy kul'tury i sporta (Competency building approach in manager training for physical culture and sport sector) / V.N. Zuev, G.I. Mokeev, G.V. Rudenko // Novoe slovo v nauke: perspektivy razvitiya (Scientific innovation: development prospects). – Cheboksary: Interactive plus. – 2015. – # 3. – P. 292-295.
  4. Zuev V.N. Komandny menedzhment v sfere fizicheskoy kul'tury i sporta (Team management in physical culture and sport sector) / V.N. Zuev // Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. – 2005. –# 8. – P. 49-52.
  5. Smirnov P.G. Menedzhment sportivno-massovoy raboty v vysshem uchebnom zavedenii (Management of mass sports activities in higher education institution) / P.G. Smirnov // «Puti i sredstva povysheniya effektivnogo fizicheskogo vospitaniya v vysshey shkole» (Ways and means to improve university physical education): Proc. of XIV All-Rus. Scient. Conf. – Tyumen, 2008. – P. 149-154.

Corresponding author:



The article considers the issues of succession in the physical culture and sports sector management policies pursued by the federal management bodies and their leaders, with an emphasis on the competency building approaches in the decision making and execution processes in the sector top management bodies. Subject to special consideration are the issues of the leader’s personal management style formation in his/her cooperation with the relevant management subcultures. Based on a set of the process indicators offered by the authors, including the leader’s type, historical and cultural context and core joint operations critical for the group subculture formation, a few basic forms of management alliances in their “intra-team cultural context” were identified, as follows: dictator group; liberal group; party group and creative group.