A social identity theory of leadership applied to sports coaching

  • Paul Cummins

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


People naturally classify themselves and others into social categories or groups in order to make sense of the world. Group life affects how we engage with others, such that our social identities (group memberships) form a lens through which we evaluate our own and others' behaviours. From exploring the minimal conditions for group discrimination, to understanding how group memberships enable individuals to achieve positive selfesteem, the social identity tradition has been a dominant force in general social psychology. Only recently have researchers begun to explore social identity principles in sport and exercise settings. A gap exists in the sport coaching leadership literature, calling for a model of leadership that accurately encompasses the complex social dynamic that is the sport coaching leadership process. A recent systematic review of the sports coaching leadership literature (Vella, Oades, and Crowe, 2010) revised and presented a new definition of sport coaching leadership. It illustrated the existing gap between the current understanding of sport coaching leadership and the complex social process that is leadership in sport coaching. I directed my research at building upon Vella et ai's conclusions and investigating the existing gap through the application of a social identity leadership model to sport coaching. Coaching leadership is a complex social process. It is possible that coaches with a deep understanding of their team 's social identity, and how to leverage this knowledge within the context of their team, may prove to be more effective leaders. This research applied a social identity leadership perspective to the sport-coaching domain . The overarching research question "Does a relationship(s) exist between perceived social identity levels and sport coaching leadership effectiveness within the team sport domain?" surrounds the group-level leadership process inherently present within the team sport-coaching context, which in turn gives way to a number of more discrete foci summ ing the overall objectives ofthis research. As this I ine of investigation was novel within the research domain and thus would contribute most effectively through base line analysis from which future research could build upon, it was clear that quantitative methodology would be the most appropriate manner of exploring issues pertinent to the major research question. Three quantitative studies were conducted in a staged process using a number of athlete and coach data samples to a) develop a measure of social identity for the sport coaching domain (n = 271 ); b) confirm the measure factor structures using separate purposive data (n = 351) and to examine the relationships between social identity (team and coach), sport motivation, sport confidence and coaching competence; and c) assess social identity.
Date of Award2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGavin Breslin (Supervisor), Tony Cassidy (Supervisor) & Maurice Stringer (Supervisor)

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