Corporate Bonding

Corporate Bonding at the Races Click on the accompanying icon to download and read all 9 pages of this document using Adobe's Acrobat Reader.


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Corporate Bonding at the Races

Summary of an SIRC research report by Kate Fox

What is 'corporate bonding'?

'Corporate bonding' is a term used to describe the establishment, development and maintenance of good social relationships between business contacts or colleagues. (The term 'corporate bonding' was coined by the author of this report, anthropologist Kate Fox, as there was no existing shorthand term for this particular form of social bonding.)

Why was this research undertaken?

This project is a sequel to a more wide-ranging study entitled The Racing Tribe (TRT), conducted in 1996/97. The TRT research provided a broad overview of the culture, customs and social dynamics of the racecourse. The Corporate Bonding study focuses in more detail on one of the key categories of racegoer identified in TRT, namely the 'Suits' or 'corporate racegoers'.

What did the research involve?

The Corporate Bonding at the Races research was conducted by Kate Fox, Director of the Social Issues Research Centre, using the 'participant-observation' methods normally employed by anthropologists studying tribal societies. The original TRT study proved that these methods provide insights into the psychology and behaviour of racegoers which cannot be obtained through conventional market research.

Natural affinity

There is a natural affinity between horseracing and corporate hospitality, mainly due to the following factors:

Facilitation of corporate bonding

Sense of 'belonging'

The 'quality-time' interval

The micro-climate


Racecard rituals

Ritual conversations

Celebration rituals

The Circuit Ritual

The Card-marking Ceremony

Sponsors' Rituals


Eating and drinking

The 'Commensality' factor

The 'Potlatch' factor


The Collective Amnesia Rule

The Modesty Rule

The Code of Chivalry

The Shop-Talk Taboo

The Native Hospitality Rule

What next?

The Social Issues Research Centre report concludes that racecourses are blessed with a naturally 'corporate-friendly' culture, complete with traditional customs and rituals that are highly effective in promoting corporate bonding, and suggests that the racing industry could do more to communicate the social benefits of racecourse corporate hospitality.

The author is also currently advising the British Horseracing Board, Letheby & Christopher and the Racecourse Association on specific means by which the industry can build on traditional practices to enhance corporate bonding at the races.