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Kathryn L. Heinze and Di Lu

Institutional research increasingly suggests that organizations are not passive recipients of institutional demands. Organizations can adopt a variety of strategies, including dismissing, decoupling, and co-opting, in response to pressure to change. Over time, organizations likely adopt different approaches, particularly as the institutional field continues to evolve. Through a longitudinal case study of the National Football League’s responses to player concussions, we investigated shifts in how a powerful sport governing body responds to institutional change over time. We found that the National Football League moved through different responses, from more reactive strategies—including dismissing, decoupling, and acquiescing—to proactive attempts to control institutional change. Using data on the National Football League, we offer propositions about the factors that may influence organizational responses. This study advances understanding of powerful sport governing bodies’ responses to institutional change.

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, Benoit Seguin and Ornella Nzindukiyimana

This study, guided by the relationship marketing theoretical framework, adopted an observational netnography method to investigate professional sport teams’ use of Twitter as a relationship marketing tool. Specifically, the study focused on the three core components of the theoretical framework of relationship marketing: communication, interaction, and value. The observational netnography is based on data gathered from the official Twitter account of 20 professional sport teams in the four major North American leagues over a seven-month period. Results outline seven emergent communication types, six interaction practices, and ten values (co)created by the teams or/and fans. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as impetus for future research, are identified.

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David Cassilo and Jimmy Sanderson

Many professional sport franchises have undergone shifts in talent evaluation strategies by moving to analytic and data-driven approaches. However, National Football League (NFL) franchises have been resistant to fully embrace the analytical model, as NFL organizational management structures tend to be isomorphic. In 2016, the Cleveland Browns initiated an ideological break from this system by hiring “moneyball” guru Paul DePodesta, a move that signaled a shift to an analytics-based model in organizational management. A textual analysis of 120 online media articles was carried out to determine how media reports framed this philosophical shift. Results revealed that frames predominantly portrayed analytics as being in direct opposition to normalized operational structures in the NFL. The results illustrate how difficult it is to change the discourse and embrace new management ideas that are perceived to contrast with dominant ideologies.

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Matthew Juravich, Steven Salaga and Kathy Babiak

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.

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Michael B. Devlin and Natalie Brown-Devlin

The purpose of this study was to first examine the effects of individual personality on the average time spent consuming sport media each week, and then to examine the extent that team identification mediated the effects of personality on sport media consumption. Personality was assessed using the HEXACO Personality Inventory, which provides a theoretical framework to examine the degree to which six broad personality domains and several underlying personality traits influence behavior. A survey using a national sample of 715 participants indicates that personality traits significantly predict team identity, and directly and indirectly predict sport media consumption. Using this personality framework presents a new area of research for sport communication theories and offers practical application for targeting specific types of individuals when promoting mediated sports events. Future research examining the role of personality in a variety of sport communication areas are offered in conclusion.

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Jonathan A. Jensen and T. Bettina Cornwell

With firms spending $60 billion on sponsorship annually, it has become an integral part of the marketing mix and is necessary for the survival of many sport organizations. Despite the importance of these partnerships, conditions that may jeopardize what can be a long-term relationship for both sides are underresearched. Utilizing survival analysis modeling to examine a longitudinal dataset of 69 global sponsorships, the purpose of this research is to isolate factors that predict the dissolution of such partnerships and test a dynamic, integrated model of sponsorship decision-making. From the perspective of the sponsoring firm, congruence and high levels of brand equity were found to reduce the hazard of dissolution. Results indicate that economic conditions, such as an inflationary economy, are a statistically significant predictor of sponsorship dissolution. Increased clutter was also detrimental, with every one sponsor added increasing the hazard of dissolution, demonstrating the importance of exclusivity in global sponsorships.