The micropolitics of organisational change in professional youth football

PhD Thesis


Gibson, L. 2019. The micropolitics of organisational change in professional youth football. PhD Thesis University of Derby School of Sport & Exercise Science https://doi.org/10.48773/q5y47
AuthorsGibson, L.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD by Traditional Route
Abstract

Organisational change plays a significant role in the employment and working lives of coaches in professional football. However, research that explores how individual coaches experience the change process is limited. Moreover, the use of interpretative, nested case studies to explore individuals’ experiences of organisational change is lacking. In response to such an absence, the aim of this research project was to investigate the experiences of individuals employed within the academy of a professional football club (Alder Football Club) during a period of organisational change.
The research project was broken down into four interrelated studies. Study one focussed on the experiences of Ian, an Academy Coach; study two focussed on the experiences of James, a Head of Foundation Phase; study three focussed on the experiences of Richard, an Academy Manager and study four focussed on the experiences of George, a Head of Professional Development Phase and U18’s Coach. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed through a process of vertical narrative analysis. In addition, ethnographic observational data were collected by the primary researcher who was employed as U16’s Academy Coach at Alder FC. Ethnographic observational data consisted of field notes, informal and formal meetings, in-house coach development sessions, academy training sessions and academy fixtures. Following the process of vertical narrative analysis, all interview and ethnographic data were subject to a process of horizontal thematic analysis. A micro-political theoretical framework was used to guide the analysis of all data sets through an iterative process. Specifically, notions of professional self-understanding, professional self-interests, micro-political literacy, sense-making, and professional leadership identity were included in the framework.
Findings from study one revealed the impact of organisational change on Ian’s professional self-understanding as an Academy Coach, along with the impact on his working conditions and subsequent employment in a similar role.
Findings from study two highlighted the micro-political actions and strategies of James in his role of Head of Foundation Phase and how he sought to manage the relationships with those around him to further his own professional self-interests.
Study three evidenced the sensemaking processes of Richard, in his role of Academy Manager. Richard sought to strategically manage the micro-political nature of the relationships of those vertically (e.g. Chairman, 1st Team Manager) above, vertically (e.g. Academy Coaches, sport science and medical staff) below and horizontally (e.g. Head of Professional Development) around him in the organisation.
Study four outlined how George, who was recruited to the role of Head of Professional Development Phase and U18’s Coach, developed a professional leadership identity to both implement and support organisational change within the academy. Data also highlighted the vulnerable nature of engaging in micro-political identity work when implementing and supporting change as an ‘outsider’.
Findings from the horizontal thematic analysis of both the interview and ethnographic observational data highlighted the micro-political nature of changes being made to the image and branding of Alder FC following the appointment of a new Chairman, Board of Directors and 1st Team Manager. Specifically, the development of a new vision for the club and the academy evidenced the vulnerable nature of implementing and coping with the changes being made amongst staff members within the academy, and the micro-political nature of successfully responding to the changes being made.
Overall, the findings of this thesis have provided evidence to suggest that enhancing one’s professional self-understanding, the development of micro-political literacy and a repertoire of actions and strategies should be included in formal coach education to better prepare coaches to cope with organisational change in professional football. Furthermore, educating those tasked with implementing and supporting organisational change of the importance of managing relationships with significant others through skilled micro-political activity, and the vulnerable nature of creating a professional leadership identity in doing so, should be included in the development of leaders in professional football.

Year2019
PublisherCollege of Science and Engineering, University of Derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.48773/q5y47
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Open
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited22 May 2024
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