The purpose of our study is to give an account of the process of institutional isomorphism, which, in France, leads non-profit organisations (NPO) to follow the management and professional model used by organisations in the same field because they are larger, better equipped, and have higher-performance tools and better skilled executive managers. In order to investigate this subject, we have built a rigorous methodology. We carried out an investigation by interviewing volunteer leaders running sports NPOs in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments (now part of the Hauts-de-France region). In total, we interviewed nearly 80 volunteer members of sports associations employing at least one employee and engaged in a process of professionalization. In the introduction, we highlight the managerial surge that leads associations to move closer to the managerial forms of organizations. To illustrate this phenomenon, we used the concepts of neo-institutional theory and tried to show that institutional isomorphism is collectively accepted by institutional volunteer leaders. In this process of professionalisation that affects sports organisations, our results demonstrate that this isomorphism operates on several levels. At a structural level, our study shows that the organisation imports the management and operating tools from the entrepreneurial model and develops strategies for diversifying its services and innovating its products. At a skills-based level, it appears the skills acquired by volunteers during their professional career are increasingly put to use in work with non-profits. Our study concludes that the isomorphism of sports NPOs is characterised by the need for independent funding, the diversification of activities, the search for innovation and the increased need for skills derived from professional experience. These results have led us to discuss the impact of the mimetic form of this isomorphic process on the non-profit project. The implications of this isomorphism are significant: while this process is very often the result of external pressure on the organisational field, it is also, in certain circumstances, the result of a collective strategy defined by the volunteer leaders running NPOs. Organisations must create the conditions for financial empowerment by increasing their financial resources. This isomorphism in NPOs with the business world is also made possible by hiring volunteers who are better trained and better adapted to new requirements. Finally, we highlight the limitations of our study and the possibilities for future development.
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