Doing hybrid management work in elite sport: The case of a head coach in top-level rugby union

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Abstract

This paper examines a head coach’s enactment of their hybrid role (i.e., it was comprised of leadership, management, and coaching responsibilities) in an elite level sport organisation. A methodological bricolage comprising a) participant observation and reflexive field notes, b) ethnographic film, and c) semi-structured and stimulated recall interviews was used to generate data during 20 months of ethnographic fieldwork with an international rugby union team. Data were iteratively analysed using Crossley’s (2011) relational theorising. The head coach was found to strategically manage nuanced relations with, and between, more and less trusted collaborators in the organisation. This positioned her to maintain oversight and to influence the support, capital, resources and information flowing through relational networks towards the organisation’s key mission. Strategic interaction that responded to others’ thoughts, feelings and interests was used to generate buy-in, space and time to carry out the manager’s agendas. The findings highlight the importance for researchers, policy makers, sport organisations, educators and practitioners of further engaging with management as an ongoing exercise in collective behaviour, which includes micropolitical struggles and exchange.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-296
JournalSport Management Review
Volume24
Issue number2
Early online date26 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • coaching
  • leadership
  • interaction
  • Crossley
  • ethnography

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