Professor Barrie Houlihan

Pronouns: He/him
  • Emeritus Professor of Sport Policy

Professor Houlihan has degrees from the universities of Liverpool and Salford. Prior to his appointment as Professor of Sport Policy at Loughborough University in September 1998, he was Professor of Public Policy at Staffordshire University where he was also Head of the Division of International Relations and Politics and Associate Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

In addition to his work as a teacher and researcher, Professor Houlihan has chaired, or been a member of, various committees for Sport England, UK Sport, and the Centre for Social Justice. He has also undertaken consultancy work for the European Union, the Youth Sport Trust, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, PEAUK, BAALPE, the Department for Education and Skills, the Council of Europe, the World Anti-Doping Agency, UK Sport, Sport England, sportscotland, and UNESCO.

In 2011 Professor Houlihan was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Research interests include:

  • public policy for sport, particularly in the areas of sport development
  • elite sport development systems
  • anti-doping
  • youth sport
  • theorising the sport policy process
  • diplomacy and sport
  • sport in small states

Selected External Research-Related Roles

  • Editor in Chief, International Journal of Sport Policy & Politics
  • Chair, UK Sport Anti-Doping Research Steering Group, 2006-2009
  • Convenor and member of the editorial board of Leisure Studies
  • Member, Board of Trustees, ISPAL, 2008-2011
  • Member, Working group on sport and welfare of young people, Centre for Social Justice, 2010 - 2011

Selected Invited Conference Keynote and Speaker Presentations

  • The Doping Issue, EU Symposium, Bio-medical side effects of doping: Harmonising the knowledge. Invited lecture at Technical University of Munich, 21st October 2006
  • Sport in small states: Sport and politics at the margin, University of Otago, November 2012
  • Recent developments in anti-doping policy and challenges for the future, Japan Anti-Doping Agency 26th February 2013
  • Improving and proving: Evaluating anti-doping education programmes, Japan Anti-Doping Agency 26th February 2013
  • Good governance, integrity and anti-doping: the changing global context of sport, Tsukuba University, 27th February 2013
  • Sport policy and the changing landscape of sport in Europe, EASS conference,  Utrecht, May 2014
  • Comparative analysis of elite sport development systems, University of Parana, Curitiba, Brazil, August 2014
  • The changing landscape of sport in England, PSA conference, Durham University, January 2015

Selected Recent Research Projects and Sources of Funding

  • An evaluation of specialist sports colleges, Youth Sport Trust and DfES. £185,000 (2002-2007). Project leader.
  • New Opportunities Fund. An evaluation of projects designed to improve the quality of PE and sports facilities in schools (with four others). £1,200,000 over six years (2003 - 2009). Project team member.
  • School Sport Partnership programme: An evaluation of the SSP programme for DfES, DCMS, YST & Sport England (with four other colleagues) £650,000 over six years (2003-2009). Project leader.
  • An evaluation of the Active Schools initiative, sportscotland, (with four other colleagues) £193,000, 2004-2007. Project team member.
  • Developing an evaluation methodology for anti-doping education programmes, World Anti-Doping Agency, (2010-11), £30,000.
  • An assessment of the extent of the use of legislation in combating doping in sport, UNESCO, (2009) with Dr Borja Garcia, £10,000.
  • Houlihan, B. and Bradbury, S. (2013) 10 Years of teamwork: McDonalds national grassroots partnerships 2002-2012, McDonalds UK.
  • Good governance in international sport federations, European Union (with seven colleagues) £10,000) 2014

Featured publications


  • Comparative elite sport development: systems, structures and public policy (edited volume with J Grix and P Brannigan), London: Routledge, (2022).
  • Stakeholder theory and sport management (co-ed. with A-M Strittmatter and J Fahlen), London: Routledge, (2022)
  • Embedded multi-level leadership in elite sport (co-ed. with SS Andersen and P Ø Hansen), London: Routledge, (2021)
  • Sport policy in China (with Zheng, J., Chen, S., and Tan, T-C.), London: Routledge, (2018)
  • Young people and sport: From participation to the Olympics (co-ed. with B Skirstad, M Parent), London: Routledge (2018)
  • Elite Youth Sport (co-ed. with Elsa Kristiansen and Milena Parent), London: Routledge (2016)
  • Managing elite sport systems: research and practice, (co-ed. with S Andersen and LT Ronglan), London: Routledge (2015)

Articles and chapters

  • Policy Analysis in Sport Management Revisited: A Critique and Discussion (with S Jedlicka and S Harris) Journal of Sport Management (forthcoming 2021)
  • The evolution of performance enhancing drugs in sport. In Rabin, O. and Corazza, O. (eds.) Emerging drugs in sport, Berlin: Springer (forthcoming 2021)
  • Towards Understanding Change-Supportive Organisational Behaviours in China: An Investigation of the 2015 Chinese National Football Reform (with Qi Peng, J Skinner, L Kihl and J Zheng), Journal of Global Sport Management (forthcoming 2021)
  • Does home location put young athletes under pressure? (with E Kristiansen and M Schnitzer) Int. J of Sport Management and marketing, (forthcoming 2021)
  • Sport as a Diplomatic Resource: The Case of South Korea, 1970 – 2017 (with Yeon Huang Kang) International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, (forthcoming 2021)
  • Stakeholder Management of Temporary Sport Event Organizations, (with E Kristiansen, B Solem and T Dilla), Event Management, (forthcoming 2021)
  • Field-Configuring Events as Temporary Sites for Institutional Change in Sport: A Case Study of The Lausanne Conference on Anti-Doping (with Daniel Read, Daniel Locke and James Skinner), European Sport Management Quarterly (forthcoming 2021)
  • Balancing Mission Creep, Means, Effectiveness and Legitimacy at the World Anti-Doping Agency, (with Daniel Read, Daniel Locke and James Skinner), Performance Enhancement and Health, 8(2-3) (2021)
  • Country profile of Ghana: sport, politics and nation-building (with Derrick Charway), International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 12(3)(2019)
  • WADA at twenty: problems and progress, (with Dag Vidar Hanstad, Sigmund Loland and Ivan Waddington) International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 11(2)(2019)
  • Public opinion in Japan and the UK on issues of fairness and integrity in sport: implications for anti-doping policy (with Downward, M Y Yamamoto, S Rascuite and K Takasu, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 12(1)(2019)
  • The effectiveness of the World Anti-Doping Agency: developing a framework for analysis (with Dag Vidar Hanstad) International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 11(2),(2019)
  • Legitimacy driven change at the World Anti-Doping Agency (with D Read, D. Lock and J. Skinner), International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 11(2) (2019)
  • An analysis of the 2015 Chinese football reform: Why then and not earlier? (with Qi Peng and James Skinner), International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 11(1) (2019)