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Matthew T. Bowers and B. Christine Green

Youth sport participation often provides the most salient forum for connecting sport with local communities. In this phenomenological examination of preteen youth sport participants, we consider the experiences and attendant meanings derived from participation in both organized and unstructured youth sport settings within a community. Phenomenology offers a paradigm for understanding youth sport participation, not in terms of the dialectical differences between the settings, but in terms of how the experiences in the different settings inform one another in the creation of meanings for participants. The analysis reveals that playing in unstructured settings actually changes the way participants think about their experiences playing organized sports (and vice versa) with both settings providing meaningful experiences capable of connecting participants to the community. Therefore, taxonomically separating the experiences engendered in the organized and unstructured settings creates a false dichotomy that fails to account for the important meanings to emerge from their synthesis.

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Matthew T. Bowers, B. Christine Green, and Chad S. Seifried

Founders of the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) set out to realize a future in which the management of sport was part of a broader vision that included exercise, dance and play. However, the organization quickly became untethered from this broad interpretation of sport management. In this mixedmethod historical research and Delphi study, 10 founding members of NASSM explain the underlying reasons why NASSM leaders redirected the organization’s focus over time. Drawing from the literature on institutional legitimacy as a lens to understand the development of NASSM, the findings suggest an emphasis on commercial sport emerged over that of exercise, dance, and play. This emphasis was perceived to offer a more sustainable niche within the crowded sport and physical activity academic society continuum. Shaped by market- and culture-driven processes, NASSM’s legitimacy-seeking efforts ultimately catalyzed a narrowing of the organization’s scope.

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Stacy Warner, Matthew T. Bowers, and Marlene A. Dixon

Research has consistently revealed that team cohesion is positively related to team performance under certain conditions. In response to the need for understanding this relationship more fully, and because of the promising new insights that can be garnered with the use of social network analysis (SNA), this study employs SNA as a tool to explore a case study of the structural cohesiveness of two women’s collegiate basketball teams. Members of the two teams completed online roster-based surveys related to different types of structural cohesion levels at four points during the season. This case study revealed that the higher performing team showed improved structural cohesion in the efficacy network over the four phases, and highlighted the movement of key players in the different networks (friendship, trust, advice, and efficacy) over time. These patterns demonstrate the potential for SNA to function as a diagnostic tool for organizations and researchers to generate testable hypotheses even in instances where statistical inference may be precluded by sampling constraints. In short, SNA was found to be a valuable new tool for exploring, depicting, and informing explanations about the individual relationships that impact team dynamics.

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Florian Hemme, Dominic G. Morais, Matthew T. Bowers, and Janice S. Todd

This study examined the planning, design, and implementation of a culture change program in a major North American public sport organization. Using interview data from 67 participants, the authors offer a rare, in-depth account of organizational culture change and discuss in particular how the change agent in charge of the initiative was able to manage employee concerns and resistance. At the heart of this successful transformation was a careful and intentional willingness of the change agent to consistently revisit, reinforce and recommunicate culture change along with all its facets and to connect all steps of the process to the ritualistic expression of the organization’s identity. This research offers a counter-perspective to technocratic imaginations of organizational culture change as neatly programmed, stepwise activity. Instead, the authors highlight the importance of attending to the continuous, local, and heterogeneous reframing activities underpinning organizational change efforts.