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Chris Chard and Kirsty K. Spence

Three years ago, Steve Thornton purchased the South End Mustangs, a professional ice hockey team competing in the D1 division in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, Thornton has experienced challenging times during his ownership tenure. The team has achieved mediocre results on the ice and poor results off the ice. Thornton knows he needs help to turn the Mustangs franchise around. Thus, as a result, he turns to John Tapner, a sport business owner, operator, entrepreneur, and advisor. Tapner is best known as a professional sport consultant and TV personality, representing his company Sports Rescue, which is the same name as his hit television show. When an owner calls Tapner, it is because a professional sports team is in trouble and needs to be rescued.

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Kirsty K. Spence, Daniel G. Hess, Mark McDonald and Beth J. Sheehan

As sport management graduates enter into a rapidly shifting industry with fluctuating environmental conditions, the need for greater leadership capacity arises (Amis, Slack, & Hinings, 2004). Sport management educators can facilitate leadership development by designing and administering undergraduate curricula that focuses on students’ vertical development. According to Cook-Greuter (2004), vertical development is defined as “how we change our interpretations of experience and how we transform our views of reality” (p. 276). The purpose of this paper is to outline a curricular framework that may impact students’ vertical development and thus increase future leadership capacity. To fulfill this purpose, the conceptual connection between vertical development, the Leadership Development Framework (LDF), and Experiential Learning (EL) is first explained. The curricular framework is then outlined in the context of a pilot study facilitated within a sport management (leadership) course in January 2008. Suggestions for future empirical projects to measure the impact of EL curricula on students’ vertical development are also offered.