Sports Diplomacy: An Integrative Review

Verity Postlethwaite, Claire Jenkin, Emma Sherry

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
270 Downloads (Pure)


In the fields of politics, history and international relations, the phrase sport diplomacy has attracted a growing multi-disciplinary interest in debate around relations between different actors. In this article we trace the emergence of academic literature connected to sport diplomacy and further identify the relevant empirical, conceptual and theoretical frames used to study sport diplomacy. Using an integrated review approach, we collected peer-reviewed journal articles published between 2000 and 2020, with 224 articles subsequently analysed for key attributes such as research location and type of diplomacy. The results and discussion support and challenge some current tropes connected to sport diplomacy research, such as the overreliance on case studies, lack of theoretical consistency and dominance of research from higher-income countries. Further, we highlight opportunities for scholars to develop empirical and theoretical bridges between fields to overcome disciplinary differences and engage with the growing organisational interest to operationalise sport diplomacy. This review of sport diplomacy literature and opens up lines of inquiry for sport management and sport development scholars to further advance our understanding of sport diplomacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-382
Number of pages22
JournalSport Management Review
Issue number3
Early online date7 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2023


  • Business and International Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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