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The Royal Dutch Rowing Federation (KNRB) (B): Corporate Governance for Competitive Performance of Dutch Rowing

Published 08 Sep 2021
Reference 6441
Summary

The case series presents the governance and leadership challenges and opportunities the Royal Dutch Rowing Federation (Koninklijke Nederlandse Roei Bond, or KNRB for short). The KNRB is a not-for-profit top sports federation. A series of astonishing scandals have afflicted top sports federations over the last number of years (International Cycling Federation, Russian Ministry of Sports and the FIFA scandal which led to Sepp Blatter's infamous demise). The case series illustrates the role played by poor governance in allowing and being ultimately responsible for such scandals, good governance considerably reducing the probability of their occurrences. The series presents eight years of the KNRB’s history starting with the aftermath of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, then reviewing the preparation to the London 2012 Olympics and concludes with the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics. The much improved results obtained by the rowers in Rio confirm that, by that time, the KNRB is back to effective functioning and great performance.

Teaching objectives

The series demonstrates that the relative decline of Dutch rowing ultimately was the consequence of ineffective governance conditions within the KNRB and its Board. It also describes the significant challenges faced in halting the decline. Performance in a top sports federation is straightforward to measure: the athletes’ performance at the major competitions is an unusually objective benchmark. The case series narrates the experience and governance contribution of one of the rowing federation’s leaders, Frans Cornelis, a passionate rower and senior executive at one of Holland’s iconic companies (Randstad). His professional and personal achievements lead him to join the KNRB Board of Directors with responsibility for Sponsoring. Through a dramatic turn of events, he eventually becomes Chair and is tasked with turning around the KNRB. The case series presents and allows a discussion of the turnaround he led as Chairman of the Board. It shows how a board can be a transformational force for the organization it oversees.

Keywords
  • Corporate Governance
  • Sports Industry
  • Not-for-Profit Association
  • Royal Dutch Rowing Federation (KNRB)
  • Board of Directors
  • Supervisory Board
  • Board Dynamics
  • Organisational Performance
  • Board-led Corporate Transformation
  • Board Chairmanship