Sport Management researchers receive funding for leadership study

A Brock University study looking at whether sport management students believe they can become industry leaders will continue with the help of the Janet B. Parks Research Grant.

Department of Sport Management (SPMA) professors Shannon Kerwin and Kirsty Spence have been awarded the grant from the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM).

The longitudinal study, entitled, “Assessing sport management students’ ego development and occupational leadership efficacy” began in September 2015 and is tracking 40 SPMA students over four years.

“We are tracking to see if anything in the SPMA program influences perception and to see if there are differences in male and female beliefs about whether they can become industry leaders. This information will contribute to our knowledge of how leaders see themselves in the sport industry, particularly for females,” says Kerwin, an assistant professor.

The researchers say there is a lack of females in leadership positions in the sport industry. The basis for this study is the notion that personal beliefs may be influencing how women feel about their abilities to become leaders, they say.

“In many ways, sport organizations are still considered to be a “boys’ club” and I always doubted myself in comparison to my male peers because I couldn’t rattle off stats and thought I couldn’t compare,” says graduate student Michelle Dykstra, whose research is focused on women in the sport industry.

As part of her master’s work, Dykstra built the data set for the first year of the study which Spence and Kerwin are now building on.

“By 2020, we will have data for a cohort of students who we’ve tracked for four years. By tracking these students through several years we are able to look at different touch points throughout their academic careers to see if something is working and how can we build on this,” says Spence, an associate professor.

Currently, the research team is doing a survey and follow-up interviews to be able to compare the statistical data gathered last September.

“The funding given to us through the Janet B. Parks Research Grant award will allow us to survey this same group of students as they progress into their second year of the program. This funding is significant as it helps constitute research during what is also the second year of the longitudinal study. We would not be able to track our students without such funding,” says Spence.

“From a program level, the information gathered through this study will be able to guide how SPMA develops its students further to be better ambassadors in the sport industry,” says Kerwin.

Kerwin and Spence will accept this award on Thursday, June 2, during the North American Society for Sport Management conference in Orlando, Fla.

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