The Complexity of Leading in Sport: Examining the Role of Domain Expertise in Assessing Leader Credibility and Prototypicality

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Steve Swanson University of Worcester

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Aubrey Kent Temple University

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The way in which leaders in sport organizations are evaluated by their employees is dependent upon perceived levels of credibility and implicit theories of leadership. Leader knowledge and expertise play significant roles in this process, yet both have been treated as comprehensive constructs irrespective of specific knowledge domains. Drawing from the education literature, this research looks to disentangle the global perspective used by the credibility and prototypicality literatures. It is proposed that employees in sport organizations expect managers to possess domain-specific expertise which is separate from the functional area requirement. Two different samples including professional sport employees and sport management students were used, with confirmatory factor and conjoint analyses used to test the research hypotheses. The results support the notion that distinct psychological processes exist within sport organizations, and that sport domain knowledge and expertise are distinct constructs which play important roles in the perception of leaders within this context.

Steve Swanson is with the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, United Kingdom. Aubrey Kent is at the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.

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