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Advancing an integrated leisure research strategy for New Zealand: an analysis of the perceived research needs and priorities of stakeholders in the arts, outdoor recreation, sport and community recreation sectors

Annear, Michael J.
Cushman, G.
Espiner, Stephen R.
Gidlow, B.
Toohey, M. S.
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::1106 Human Movement and Sports Sciences , ANZSRC::160402 Recreation, Leisure and Tourism Geography
This report describes a programme of research that seeks to advance the development of an integrated leisure research strategy for New Zealand. The research aims to assess current research utilisation and demand for an overarching national strategy, identify key research priorities and themes across the leisure sector, and facilitate greater dialogue between leisure stakeholders. The leisure sector is taken to include the sport, outdoor recreation, arts and community recreation sectors. There have been calls for an integrated leisure research strategy for New Zealand for at least the last decade, although relatively little progress has been made towards this end. While the findings and recommendations of this report do not constitute a leisure research strategy, it is hoped that they will be used to advance the development of a national leisure research strategy following further dialogue with stakeholders. The research which led to this report was divided into two phases. In the first phase, an exploratory survey of leisure sector stakeholders was undertaken to determine current research utilisation and attitudes towards the development and implementation of a sector-wide research strategy. In the second, main, research phase, a survey was again used to identify key research priorities and themes within individual sectors as well as common research themes across the entire sector. A focus group was held with key stakeholders in the second research phase to triangulate the research findings and present initial conclusions. A wide variety of leisure sector stakeholders were consulted during this research, including: national and regional organisations; research producers and research users; public, private, and volunteer-sector groups; senior management, front line staff and volunteers. The diversity of feedback received during data collection suggests that the present research is likely to have relevance to a broad audience across the leisure sector. A number of salient findings were identified during the research. In the first phase, the exploratory survey revealed high levels of research utilisation across the sector and a desire for an increase in the production of relevant research outputs. Respondents to the first survey also indicated their support for the development of a national leisure research strategy. The first phase also highlighted a general consensus among stakeholders that any future strategy be implemented by a centralised government agency, such as Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC). In the second research phase, sector-specific research priorities were identified to account for some of the unique challenges and situations faced by individual sector groups. Thereafter, common research themes were explored to identify overarching research needs that could potentially form the basis of a leisure research strategy. While there were some differences between sectors (the arts sector was notable in this regard), leisure stakeholders identified a number of research themes that were important across the sector. In particular, leisure sector representatives called for more research to identify the benefits and outcomes of leisure participation and understand contemporary leisure behaviour and demand. Feedback from focus group participants was generally supportive of the research findings, and stakeholders were interested in ensuring that the research was widely disseminated, that there was good communication between research producers, and that steps were taken to move from preliminary research to the development of a full leisure research strategy. A number of recommendations are presented at the end of the report to assist the further development and implementation of a national leisure research strategy. It is hoped that the research described in this report represents the first steps towards such a strategy. This will only be achieved, however, through ongoing communication between research-intensive institutions, government agencies and leisure sector stakeholders.
Source DOI
©LEaP, Lincoln University, New Zealand 2010. This information may be copied or reproduced electronically and distributed to others without restriction, provided LEaP, Lincoln University is acknowledged as the source of information. Under no circumstances may a charge be made for this information without the express permission of LEaP, Lincoln University, New Zealand.
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