Skip to main content

Managing the Impacts of Mega-Events: Towards Sustainable Legacies

Final Report Summary - CARNIVAL (Managing the Impacts of Mega-Events: Towards Sustainable Legacies)

This project, CARNIVAL, which ended in mid-November 2017, was a trans-continental network of partners examining the constraining and enabling forces which affect the legacies of mega-events. The use of sporting and non-sporting mega-events to bring about transformation of socially deprived areas of major cities is becoming an increasingly important part of the raison d'être for hosting such events, especially given the immense costs involved and the current economic climate. Other proposed impacts of mega-events include economic impacts, social and cultural impacts as well as infrastructural and technological advances in host countries. Yet the planned impacts and legacies of mega events are not often realised or fall far short of expectations.

The purpose of this project was to examine why potential impacts of mega-events may not be realised and what factors could be utilised to maximise these potential impacts to create sustainable legacies for mega-events. There were three pillars and their intersections which underpinned this research. Firstly, there was a focus on the three stages of managing mega-events, from bidding/planning, management and post-event programmes/activities to capture the full range of temporal factors which may influence the realisation of impacts. Secondly, a wide range of impacts were considered at the micro and macro levels as well as a wide range of constraining / enabling forces including the role of leadership, corruption, gender issues, organisational structures and historical factors. Thirdly, contextual features and cross cultural analysis provided a tapestry of case studies and enabled a comprehensive analysis of similarities and differences between nations and types of events.

Through systematic reviews of literature on the legacies of cultural and sporting mega-events a state-of-the-art perspective and gaps in knowledge regarding legacy was discerned, to inform the foci of the research team. Following on from this the Coventry University project team developed and initiated 18 distinct research projects addressing various (social, cultural, political, economic and technological) aspects of legacy. Four of these projects were additionally supported through full PhD scholarships and/or funding.

A review of the outputs by all partners on the project identified certain methodological un-equivalences which potentially posed risks to maintaining standards of rigour and ethics in research. Particularly, this gap was noticeable in projects conducted by researchers from partner institutions based in the emerging nations who are not accustomed to Western-style conventions regarding the research process. As a result of this mentors from Coventry University were allocated to all Brazilian colleagues visiting Coventry on a mobility to support development of outputs and to enhance knowledge sharing in line with the knowledge exchange focus of all IRSES projects.

A further way in which enhanced knowledge sharing has taken place is through Doctoral Training/ Summer Schools. CPUT and Tum held a Summer School in Cape Town from 11-18 March 2016 focusing on research publication. Coventry University and CPUT held a Doctoral Training School in Cape Town from 14-22 November 2016, which also involved TUM Partner Lead, Prof. Koenigstorfer. The School was attended by eleven PhD students from Coventry and six from CPUT who all had the opportunity to present their own research and gain feedback from the rest of the group and in mentoring sessions with academic staff. Further Doctoral Training Schools were held in South Africa in March/ April 2017, the United States on September/ October 2017 and in Coventry in November 2017.

Main Results Achieved:

The main results achieved so far are an advanced conceptualisation of the multi-faceted nature of legacy phenomenon, the formation of 13 research project teams at Coventry involving a total number of 28 researchers (including PhD students) involved and the exchange and sharing of methodological expertise and approaches, both within CU (through PhD recruitment and supervision and ECR/MCR collaborations) and across partner institutions. Other partners such as TUM in Germany have followed a similar format and currently have nine projects running in three streams – Health, Management and Sociology. Finally we have initiated several other forms of collaboration (e.g. Doctoral Training Schools) across the partners that led to an important international exchange of knowledge that will be of benefit to all concerned.

Expected Final Results and their Potential Impact and Use:

The project sought to identify best practices which enable potential impacts to be realised in light of hosting such events. This will enhance knowledge and understanding and encourage stakeholders to adopt sustainable and responsible mega-event management guidelines. The results of this project have the potential to provide tools to ensure the maximum return on investment for hosts in bidding and hosting mega-events, taking into consideration the type of event and a wide range of contextual influences such as culture, time, political and economic factors. We took a trans-national comparative approach to examine cultural differences in managing impacts of mega-events, primarily focusing on our project partners in South Africa, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the USA and Germany.