Title: Symbolic isomorphism and legitimacy: New Zealand's Ice Blacks and Ice Fernz

Authors: Sean Phelps, Geoff Dickson

Addresses: Auckland University of Technology, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1142, New Zealand. ' Division of Sport and Recreation, AUT University, Private Bag 92006, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

Abstract: Using institutional theory as a lens, this research investigates the selection of the names Ice Blacks and Ice Fernz by the New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation for their men|s and women|s national teams, and their conformity to existing naming patterns with the New Zealand sporting sector. To explain this conformity, we apply a central tenet of institutional theory, that isomorphism provides legitimacy, to the selection of corporate identities. Two case studies are presented based on interviews with organisational decision makers and analysis of secondary data. The research identifies that the aliases are isomorphic with the names used by other New Zealand national sports teams. Frequent use of the terms by the print media is seen as acceptance of the names and a likely antecedent to wider community acceptance of the names. This paper concludes by arguing that these factors support existing arguments that symbolic isomorphism is a likely precursor to legitimacy.

Keywords: legitimacy; symbolic isomorphism; Ice Blacks; Ice Fernz; institutional theory; New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation; national sports teams; sport marketing; corporate identity.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2009.021752

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2009 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.90 - 100

Published online: 01 Dec 2008 *

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