Sport, The Business of ________: Exploring Higher Purpose in a Professional Sport Organization
Researchers have demonstrated that organizational leaders’ communication of an organizational higher purpose (i.e., a definition of ‘why the organization exists’) profoundly benefits organizational performance (Sisodia, Sheth, & Wolfe,2014); however, sport organizational scholars and leaders remain ambiguous in their definitions of why such organizations exist (Newman, 2014; Zeigler, 2007). Thus, the purpose of this research is to explore the presence and management of higher purpose in a professional sport organization. To fulfill this research purpose, a qualitative, single-site case study was used to study a professional sport organization, with data collection methods including employee interviews, observation of organizational artifacts and an analysis of organizational documents. These data were analyzed by creating typologies based upon two theoretical frameworks: (1) Mackey and Sisodia’s (2013) four types of higher purpose; and (2) Bell-Laroche, Maclean, Thibault and Wolfe’s (2014) 4-I Values Framework, to understand how leaders were managing higher purpose with Management by Values (MBV) practices. From this analysis, the organization’s higher purpose was found to be largely ambiguous; however, most stakeholders espoused The Good (i.e., service to others) as the predominant source of higher purpose. Secondly, leaders were found to informally and intuitively manage higher purpose through a ‘top-down’ communication of organizational core values. These findings suggest that leaders have an opportunity to both discover and communicate their organization’s higher purpose and to develop formal MBV practices that could allow higher purpose to be utilized as a beneficial strategic management resource.