How did a large network of over 600 actors successfully organize itself to serve a mega project dominated by three levels of government? How did the three levels of government in Canada (federal, provincial and municipal) establish a network to coordinate efforts for hosting the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games?
To identify factors supporting effective coordination, academics explored the network created for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. Created on 30 September 2003, the Vancouver Organising Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) had eight main divisions working towards hosting the Games. It was dissolved on 31 December 2010.
VANOC had only 7 years to prepare for the Games. As such, outsourcing to various stakeholders was required. Four governments assisted VANOC: the Canadian federal government, the British Columbia provincial government, and the Vancouver (host of city sports) and Whistler (host of mountain sports) municipal governments. Before it had been required by the IOC as a good practice, the governments signed a Multi-Party Agreement (MPA) with VANOC to outline each partner’s responsibilities.
Each of the four governments created a Games secretariat or office to coordinate their respective departments. A cross-government and cross-partner governance structure (including other Games partners) was also created via the setup of various committees.
From the research conducted and comparing it with the institutional set-up on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, nine governance themes emerged as being requisite for an effective network of stakeholders:
- Coordination mechanisms: coordination mechanisms and frameworks were important and needed to be established during the bid phase.
- Internal engagement, momentum and motivation: The success of the relationships created through the coordination mechanisms depended largely on the individuals representing the organisations.
- External transparency: transparency was used as an external process to gain support from the general public and media, and to help with these stakeholders’ degree of engagement
- Formalisation: to be successful, the network needed to formalize relationships and responsibilities.
- Balancing autonomy and interdependence: while departments and governments are technically autonomous, they are interdependent in such time-limited mega projects.
- Colocation: co-location or physical proximity in the same building was identified not only for the Vancouver 2010 Games but also for London.
- Readiness exercises: to ensure that the coordination mechanisms, lines of communication, and actors’ responsibilities are ready, readiness exercises or test events were conducted.
- Political alignment: political alignment, continuity, or unity helped support the overall goal of the network, ensuring a more effective and efficient process.
- Time: the unmovable deadline of the Games’ opening ceremonies helped create momentum and push actors to work together towards a common goal.
Source: Adapted from Parent, Rouillard and Chappelet, Empirical Issues and Challenges for Multilevel Governance: The Case of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, 2018