Why organisations might not have limit terms

Arguments against term limits include the contention that long career board members can develop knowledge, experience, networks, relationships, and skills that the organisation would benefit from retaining. For example, Dou, Sahgal, and Zhang (2015) argued that long director tenure is associated with tighter control and fewer agency problems. In many situations the potential board member talent pool might be limited, and specific skill sets and experience may be difficult to replace. Such arguments may provide a rationale for the IOC practice of allowing members of the IOC Executive Board to be elected back to the Executive Board after a two-year stand-down period. It is a tenuous rationale, however, because when the significant number of long-serving members within the IOC is considered, it is clear that there should be ample candidates for the Executive Board with substantive experience of the organisation. There is also a view that longer-serving members are more likely to take a long-term strategic view versus a shorter-term perspective based on the limited time they are able to serve on the board. Longer-serving board members may also be more open-minded to short-term failure, an important factor in facilitating innovation. It has also been suggested that having term limits may reduce the value of holding a board position (Bos et al., 2013) and therefore not attract the best talent potentially available.

There are also specific reasons for not limiting terms that are directly related to the Olympic movement and these promulgate resistance to change. The electoral structure of international sport often requires an individual to hold a particular position in an organisation before they can be considered for election to a position in an organisation with more influence. Individuals are often required to be a member of a national federation in order to be elected to the respective sports international federation. For example, in order to be a board member of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), an individual needs to be a member of their nation’s basketball federation. This has an ‘escalating effect’ in that individuals join their national federation and after some time have developed relationships and networks outside their country and thus are well positioned to be elected to the International Federation. If elected they are also required to hold their position on the National Federation for as long as they are on the International Federation. This reduces the opportunities for board renewal within the national federation. To change this would require International Federations to amend their constitutions to allow board members to relinquish their place on their National Federation board and still belong to the board of the International Federation.

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