Internationalization of Professional Sports

Jannis Tim Severin Wagner

Student thesis: Master thesis


Internationalization is nothing new for businesses in general. Therefore, internationalization is a well-researched theme in business research. Professional sports only recently started to grow into a business. During their growth, the major sports leagues realized that there was international demand for their product. The motivation for the internationalization is obvious. It generates additional revenue for the league. Simultaneously, international popularity protects strengthens their position both on a national and global level. Nevertheless, there are no models that try to explain their process. As a result, there is a lack of specific structure that the teams and leagues can follow. This fact is starting to become more relevant due to the large amount of income the highest-grossing leagues and teams generate.
Since sports became similar to businesses, it would be sensible to compare their process to the process of established companies. As businesses, their constraints are the same. Therefore, the paper chooses to investigate the research question "how the Uppsala Model and psychic distance influence the internationalization in professional sports?" The Uppsala Model and psychic distance are among the most used concept in academic research. Using these concepts allows the researcher to understand the decision making of a company. This explanatory power of the concepts stretches from market selection to operating decisions within a market. These factors are among the essential determinates for the success of a venture. Since previous studies have proven the concepts, this study aims to understand whether it works for professional sports. To study the concepts, the thesis chooses two cases and analyses their decision making. In order to gain a holistic understanding, the study analyzes out of quantitative and qualitative data. The result show that the assumptions of the model apply. In both cases, risk aversion influences the actions taken by the parties. However, as the parties started to internationalize, differences started to emerge. These are likely due to the difference in the product of professional sports. It faces different constraints that impact its commercial viability in the international marketplace.

EducationsMSc in International Business, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages91