Upper Echelons in Professional Sport: The Impact of NBA General Managers on Team Performance

in Journal of Sport Management
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  • 1 University of Akron
  • 2 University of Georgia
  • 3 University of Michigan
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This study integrates upper echelons theory into the sport management literature by investigating general manager (GM) strategic decision-making in the National Basketball Association. Specifically, this research examines individual contextual variables as they relate to the human resource decision-making tendencies of GMs. Utilizing 17 seasons of data on team performance and individual GM characteristics, we estimate two-stage panel regression models to examine the relationship between GM-related variables and organizational performance. We find that both GM technical experience and GM education are positively related to winning and efficiency. The results also illustrate the importance of acquiring elite-level talent and indicate positive returns to GMs whom are able to do so. These findings are relevant for team ownership and suggest a link between organizational performance and the personal characteristics of league GMs. The analysis furthers our understanding of the GM–team player talent–organizational performance relationship in professional sport.

Juravich is with the University of Akron, Akron, OH. Salaga is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA. Babiak is with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

Address author correspondence to Matthew Juravich at mjuravich@uakron.edu.
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