Since 2002 the research group SASO (within sport policy and management) took the lead in the development of an international research network on (elite) sport development, reflected in the name SPLISS: Sports Policy Factors Leading to International Sporting Success (SPLISS).
The mission of the SPLISS is “to create a sustainable international network that coordinates, develops and shares expertise in innovative high performance sport research at the meso-level (policy level) in cooperation with other policy makers, NOCs, national and international organisations, and researchers worldwide”. SPLISS deals with the strategic policy planning process that underpins the development of successful national elite sport development systems. Drawing on various international competitiveness studies, it examines how nations develop and implement policies that are based on the critical success factors that may lead to competitive advantage in world sport. An international group of researchers joined forces to develop theories, methods and a model on the Sports Policy factors Leading to International Sporting Success (SPLISS).
The uniqueness of the SPLISS research lies in the specific methods to measure and evaluate effectiveness of elite sport policies of countries in a mixed quantitative and qualitative way, by the comprehensive theory development adopting elements from sport management, strategic management, governance, sport policies and public policies as well as competitiveness studies in an international comparative context; and by it’s close cooperation between researchers from different countries and policy makers.
Apart from enhancing (elite) sport development research at the levels of input (money)-throughput (processes)-output (success), SPLISS also integrates the ‘outcomes’ (value) –or the wider social role of (elite) sport to the inputs and throughputs.
SPLISS has grown to be one of the leading research organisations in elite sport development, involving the cooperation of universities and policy organisations from over 20 countries. The network is widely recognized, as evidenced by the number of national sport organizations and national policies that currently apply the SPLISS model and methods in their policy development and by the number of peer reviewed publications, key note presentations at international scientific conferences and the international cooperation between different universities that signed a memorandum of understanding. In 2008 SPLISS researchers received the Best Paper award at the Sport Management Conference in Perth for their methods used in comparing elite sport policies. In 2015 the group finished the largest benchmark study in Sport in collaboration with 58 researchers and 33 policy makers worldwide, comparing 15 nations. The increasing worldwide recognition of the SPLISS project was confirmed by more than 300 attendants from 45 different countries during the first SPLISS world conference on elite sport policy in Antwerp (2013), successfully continued in Melbourne (2015) and to be planned in Utrecht (2017).