Chancellor’s Chairs – Kirsty Spence & Shannon Kerwin

Department of Sport Management (SPMA) professors Shannon Kerwin and Kirsty Spence are exploring the relationship between students’ leadership capacity and personal development.

Spence and Kerwin are conducting a longitudinal mixed-method study to assess a cohort of SPMA students’ ego development and leadership efficacy as they progress through their 4-year course of study.

They began tracking the students with interviews and surveys as they entered their cohort in September 2015 and will follow students with a goal to determine how both SPMA-developed curricular components and critical incidents incurred by students affect their efficacy to become leaders.

Kerwin and Spence received additional funding for this project from the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) when awarded the Janet B. Parks Research Grant award.

The study is focused on mapping students’ vertical development — that is, how students transform their perspective, such that their interpretation of experience and views of reality are both more expansive and deeper — based on using the Leadership Development Framework (LDF).

Spence describes vertical development as the hallmark of adult maturity.

“By 2020, we will have data for these students we have tracked for four years, having looked at different touch points throughout their academic careers to see if something we’re doing is working and how can we build on this,” says Spence.

“This information will contribute to our knowledge of how leaders see themselves in the sport industry, particularly for females,” says Kerwin.

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 females’ personal beliefs may be influencing how they feel about their abilities to become leaders.


Sport Management researchers receive funding for leadership study