The most interesting lecture in this class was Kenny Mauer's guest appearance. Many times in the professional sport industry we have seen debates, strikes, and conflict surrounding contracts and salaries. Before Kenny spoke with us, I had never heard a first hand story or opinion on the topic. The conflict that Kenny presented was between the referees of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the NBA itself. Kenny, being a veteran official of the NBA gave us great insight into the previous conflicts that he had dealt with. He personally had experienced multiple times when the NBA officials were dealing with contractual changes, most of which turned into strikes. The conflict that Kenny and other NBA officials dealt with was vertical conflict, which arises between different hierarchical levels of an organization (Slack, & Parent, 2006). The conflict arose between the league commissioner, David Stern, and the NBA officials. The conflict occurred because David Stern was attempting to change the officials contracts, which affected their salaries in a negative way. Kenny mentioned that there were quite a few younger officials that had never seen a strike before and these officials were more likely to believe David Stern about how great of a contract they were receiving than to listen to the veteran officials about continuing to hold out. This is a demonstration of legitimate and coercive power. David Stern, because of his position as league commissioner, has the legitimate power (Slack, & Parent, 2006). With his legitimate power he can make the decisions on what he want the officials contracts to consist of. He also used coercive power to instill fear into the younger officials. David Stern acquired new officials while the NBA officials were on strike and claimed that if a decision were not reached about the contracts then he would use the new officials all year. This would result in the young officials missing out on an entire year of their contract. Kenny Mauer stated that there was no way the NBA would use unqualified officials for an entire season, but the younger officials were scared that David Stern would. Ultimately the coercive power must have had a significant impact on the officials because they ended up voting in favor of the new contracts much sooner than Kenny Mauer and other veteran officials would have liked.
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Most of our lectures in this class consisted of one main topic of the organization and management of sport. I think that when we had the panel of guest speakers in class we were presented with the main topic of organizational conflict and change, but also given an inside view on other important management topics. It was fascinating to hear Mr. Maturi speak about the organizational change he experienced when he became the University of Minnesota Athletic Director. He gave personal insight into the process of organizational change and also mentioned other management topics such as culture, decision-making, leadership, and power and politics. Mr. Maturi focused mainly on his approach to the organizational change of combining the men's and women's athletics departments. He explained that he used his first year as the Athletic Director almost entirely to personally adapt to the culture of the University, the two athletic departments and the people who were involved in them. In his first year, there was not one athletic department employee who got fired. Mr. Maturi decided to throw out the idea of radical change for the first year by not eliminating people and positions. Coming into the situation, Mr. Maturi knew that there would potentially be strong resistance to the change that he was hired to coordinate. The men's and women's athletic departments were completely separate in everything they did, so he expected them both to have different ideas in the process of combining the two. To combat the resistance to change that he expected, Mr. Maturi used participation and involvement of the men's and women's athletes, which Slack and Parent (2006) claim is one of the most effective ways to deal with resistance to change. The men's and women's athletic departments each had different logos before the merger. The men used the block "M" and the women used a "Ms.". Mr. Maturi asked both the men and women to come together and collectively make a decision on what the new logo for the University of Minnesota Athletic Department should be. The athletes chose the block "M" almost unanimously. This exercise helped show Mr. Maturi's commitment to the process and allowed him to gain the trust and support of the athletes. Overall, Mr. Maturi's speech on the organizational change that the University of Minnesota experienced shed a new light onto many organizational processes. His leadership and ability to make decisions has helped the merger go smoothly and has created an effective athletic department.
Today's presentations all went very well. I really liked Brian's presentation on the Pittsburgh Pirates. He gave great insight into the organization and had a great recommendation of "committing" to their leaders. In Rebecca's presentation, it was nice to hear that someone else feels the U of M intramural program needs to provide better officiating. I think Ryan N. gave a great presentation on the Oakland Raiders. He centered his presentation around the owner Al Davis, which is exactly how the organization is run and he gave a great recommendation as to hiring a General Manager. I enjoyed hearing about the Pop Warner Little Scholars. I did not know much about that organization before hearing Alyssa's presentation. I thought Kristin's presentation on Under Armour was great. I really like hearing about Kevin Plank's style of leadership and how it effects the entire organization in a positive way.
All organizations have their own culture. Organizational culture can be defined in many different ways because there are so many different cultures. A few definitions from or book, written by Slack and Parent, offer the idea that organizational culture, sometimes coined as "corporate culture", involves a mixture of ideology, language, rituals, And a set of understandings that members of that community share in common. (Slack and Parent, 2006) Our book suggests that the general cultural themes among most sport organizations are values, beliefs, basic assumptions, and shared understandings. (Slack and Parent, 2006) These cultural themes provide a basis for an organizations culture and provide stability for an organization. There are a few different ways that cultural characteristics manifest within an organization. The book suggests that through stories, myths, symbols, and rituals the culture of an organization prevails. There are also different types of cultures that tend to manifest within sport organizations. Our book states that the strength of a sport organization's culture will vary from one company to another. (Slack and Parent, 2006) With this difference in cultural intensity we might find thick and thin cultures in sport organizations. Slack and Parent define a thick culture as one in which the members of the sport organization agree about the importance of certain values and employ them in their daily routines. A thick culture also assists in cohesiveness of the organization. On the other hand, a thin culture does not present common values the way a thick culture does. There might still be values and beliefs among the members of the organizations, but they might not constantly be prevalent and affect almost everything the organization does. (Slack and Parent, 2006) As we learned last class period from our guest speakers, culture greatly impacts how an organization operates and must be factored into different managerial styles. Joel Maturi, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Athletic Director, was hired to specifically help a sport organization combine two separate athletic programs that each had their own culture. To do so he had to create a new culture at the University of Minnesota while still keeping the old values and belief of the previous culture. Joel Maturi has been successful in meshing two separate cultures and departments into one for a few reasons. He took the majority of the first year in his position to acclimate himself to the cultures already in place. He used his excellent communication skills to listen to both the Men's and Women's athletic departments to understand what the core values of each culture were. He then combined the common characteristics that each culture possessed to create a single athletic department. Thus far his managerial efforts have created one of the most successful and smoothly run combined athletic department in the country. Cultures within sport organizations come in many different forms. Leading both think and thin cultures will most likely be a task each and every one of us will have to accomplish at some point in our careers as sport managers. By studying and learning from successful organizations, such as the University of Minnesota athletic department, we can assure ourselves that there is always a way to manage or even merge different organizational cultures.
The organizational context impacts leadership in many ways. Internal and external influences such as actors, processes, culture, structure, and environment each impact leadership differently. Although each of these plays a specific role in the organizational context of leadership, I believe that culture, environment, and actors have the greatest impact. Culture, environment, and actors all influence the way a successful organization goes about structuring business. When leaders within these organizations have the ability to recognize and adapt to different influences they build strong and successful organizations. This summer I experienced an extremely successful structure and style of leadership during an internship with the PGA of America. Although I could not find an official organizational structure for the PGA, I did learn quite a bit about how the management was structured while working for them. The PGA seemed for be quite a horizontal style structure. There were many leaders with different titles that all seemed equally qualified, important, and held a high level of responsibility. Each of these leaders held positions in very different areas of business. In the area I worked in, Merchandise Operations, my boss displayed supportive leadership, participative leadership, and achievement leadership. All of these resulted from our high-stress and at times tedious work environment. He used a supportive leadership style to maintain a good morale during the long and tiring days. He complemented us on our work and was rarely negative because he wanted to increase our confidence as employees, so we maintained the quality of work he expected out of us. He also displayed participative leadership. Our tasks as interns were often unstructured and unclear, but the way they were presented made us feel like they made us personally interested in accomplishing them. My boss was also confronted with the task of a new staff and a new environment. Each PGA event is in a different location around the country and they generally hire local interns and must adapt to different cultures and environments. My boss had to adapt to the new actors (interns) and the Minnesota environment. Additionally he had the daunting task of selling more than $6 million worth of merchandise in one week during terrible economic times. By using those three styles of leadership he created an atmosphere throughout his subordinates that allowed him to successfully achieve his and the PGA's goals. There are many things that can impact the leadership style of an organization. Adaptation to different elements within and outside of the organization is a key trait of a successful leader. Whether it be the PGA of a youth sports organization leadership in many shapes and forms is necessary to become a successful organization.
Conflict will always be prevalent within sport organizations. With so many different roles in an organizational structure it is nearly impossible to avoid conflict. As sport managers we must learn effective methods in managing conflict to ensure that our organizations will continue to operate smoothly and to full potential. Our book categorizes conflict into two different types, which are vertical conflict and horizontal conflict. Horizontal conflict arises between subunits, or those individuals representing those subunits, that are on the same level of the organizational structure. (Slack and Parent, 2006) Vertical conflict happens between different levels of the organizational structure. (Slack and Parent, 2006) Conflict is not necessarily a bad thing in a sport organization. If there is conflict in an organization then members of various levels of the structure must react to it. At times this conflict comes from disapproval or unhappiness within an organization. By dealing with such a conflict organizations better themselves and create a more productive work environment. Our book provides Pondy's Five-Stage Model of Conflict, which includes each step of the conflict process. The steps are latent conflict, perceived conflict, felt conflict, manifest conflict, and conflict aftermath. Latent conflict is the competition of scare resources, drive for autonomy, and divergence of subunit goals. Perceived conflict is the stage where the people involved become aware that there is an actual potential for conflict. Felt conflict is the emotional reaction to the disagreement. Manifest conflict is described as the stage when adversarial behavior is demonstrated. Lastly, conflict aftermath is the resolution to the conflict or the basis to future conflict. (Slack and Parent, 2006) Specifically in sport organizations common conflicts have to do with differentiation in goals and management styles, low formalization, competition over resources, differences in reward systems, communication problems, and power incongruence. (Slack and Parent) Our book also provides us with a few strategies to successfully manage conflict. One strategy is avoidance. By completely avoiding conflict or as our book says, "turning a blind eye" on a problem provides a short-term fix to a conflict that will most likely resurface with a greater negative effect on the organization. Another strategy is separating or merging conflicting subunits. By separating conflicting subunits they no longer have any contact with each other. By merging conflicting subunits mangers can force conflicting subunits to effectively work with one another to solve a conflict. (Slack and Parent, 2006) Overall, ignoring conflict within sport organizations happens quit frequently. At times conflict is difficult to identify and therefore hard to manage and avoid. By taking the correct steps to recognize the specific type of conflict that arises sport managers can prevent larger or future conflict from arising by using different strategies to manage it effectively.
Power and politics play an enormous role in the sport industry. Most large sport organizations have some sort of power structure in place to help maintain a smooth operating business. Sometimes power and politics have a positive effect on organizations and other times they can hinder the organization from operating to its full potential. As stated in our book, power is one of the most widespread yet more problematic concepts in the organizational theory. (Slack and Parent, 2006) Power has much to do on the individual level of the organizational structure. Our book points out that power is the ability to get someone to do something they would not have otherwise done. (Slack and Parent, 2006) There are many forms of power that have influence on an organization. One such form is authority, which is the power that accrues to a person because of his or her own role within the organization. (Slack and Parent, 2006) In our Inside the Olympic Industry reading, Lensky shows how power and politics can be abused. The reading describes how a few top Olympic officials used their authority and power to give family members scholarships they were not supposed to get. The top officials had the power to allocate money to certain areas and they used it for personal benefit rather than for the goof of the organization. This coincides with our books definition of Legitimate Power. The officials power came strictly from their title and position and not and specific qualities they posses. (Slack and Parent) In another reading we learned that Olympic committees in Canada had attempted to reorganize their organizational structures in order to create a more successful Olympic program. The problem with this stemmed from certain powers being shifted from one group to another. Volunteers had traditionally run the organizations and the reorganization was going to establish a central power structure that gave volunteers much less authority. The desired power in this case was to control the decision-making process. The confusion and power shift only hurt the organizations because of the people involved being unwilling to give up certain powers. Politics within sport tend to have more to do with the interaction among organization members. Within politics organizations establish coalitions, use outside experts, and build a network of contacts, which all assist in achieving the organizational goals. (Slack and Parent, 2006) Overall, power and politics have a great influence on the way organizations operate.
Possibly one of the most important topics to consider when studying sport organizations is the general environment. Our book, authored by Slack and Parent, defines the general environment as "sectors that, although may not have direct impact on the operation of an organization, can influence the industry in general ways that ultimately have an impact in the organization." Our book describes seven sectors of the general environment as economic, political, sociocultural, legal, demographic, ecological, and technical. Another important sector of the environment is the task environment, which includes suppliers, regulatory agencies, athletes' groups/staff, competitors, and customers/members/fans. (Slack and Parent 2006) These sectors of the environment generally affect organization more directly than the sectors of the general environment. Many of these sectors directly affect the whether or not the organization will meet its goals. The environment surrounding a sport organization can often times be unpredictable. Our book suggests that the degree of environmental uncertainty surrounding a sport organization can strongly influence the structure and process of that organization. Often times environments drastically change and are extremely unpredictable. Our book provides an example of this using Reebok Shoe Co. They explain how the athletic shoe industry went through an industrial boom over a very short period of time. In just three years Reebok's sales jumped nearly 25 times what they had been in the past. Because of such a drastic change Reebok could not keep up with customer's orders and had to completely revamp their distribution process. To meet the market demands they purchased a large facility and instated new methods of organization in order to help them successfully distribute their product and ultimately control their environment. The book provides us with a few specific ideas as to how to deal with and keep control of an ever-changing environment. First there are "internally directed actions." Buffering, Boundary Spanners, Smoothing, Rationing, and Planning/Forecasting are all internally directed actions. Buffering, for example, refers to the technical core or the organization or in other words, the production side of the organization (Slack and Parent). An example of buffering is stocking up on raw materials needed to make a certain product as a preparation for abrupt changes in demand (Slack and Parent). There are also "externally directed actions" that can help organizations prepare and adapt to uncertain environments. These include contractual agreements, joint ventures, cooptation, and interlocking directories. Overall, environmental uncertainty will always affect sport organizations, yet there are many ways to prepare for such uncertainty so that as a manager you can adapt to the environment and help create a successful organization.
Many different factors go into implementing an effective organizational strategy for any sports organization. Three very important factors that cannot be left out of the organizational strategy are power, capacity for change, and interest for change. Each of these plays a separate role in creating an effective organizational strategy. In the world of sport organizations these three components are extremely evident. The first of the three, power, can be a difficult idea within an organization. Too much power can counteract the organizations intention and make it unorganized. If one person makes all the decisions because they feel they have all the power then the organization has the potential to fall apart. In the Amis et al reading, power is described as a mobilizer for implementing decisions. Power can help an organization if it is used and distributed the correct way. If a few people take on a leadership role and use power to establish, maintain and sometimes transform rules and objectives within an organization the organization will run effectively (Amis). The second component, the capacity for change, can be used to guide an organization from one organizational design to another (Amis). This component is very similar to making strategic organizational goals. According to the Amis et al reading "there must be an ability to mobilize a commitment to change by creating excitement about the anticipated endpoint and convincing other organization members that they will be better off as a result of the change. In other words, there must be a clear vision of the future to guide the organization through the transition process." The third component, interest for change, can also be a little tricky, but necessary nonetheless. If an individual that has all the power has an interest for change that no one else in the organization has the organization might self-destruct. According to our Amis et al reading change tends to occur when either a new set of actors gains power or when it is in the interest of those in power to alter the direction of the organization. This component to organizational strategy can be very helpful if the direction of an organization isn't headed the right way. If actors within the structure have the desire to change the organization there is a good chance the organization will prosper and benefit from it.
The chapter titled Dimensions of Organizational Structure, in our book focuses on the three most commonly used organizational dimensions. These three dimensions consist of complexity, formalization, and centralization. The first of these dimensions, complexity, is described in the book as one of the most readily apparent characteristics of any sport organization. When looking at most sport organizations it is difficult to look past how many different areas of responsibility there are. These areas are usually departmentalized and then a chain of command forms within each of them. The book explains that this complexity comes from the act of dividing up of work into narrow routine tasks. This is known as task differentiation. Another way organizational complexity increases, according to our book, is known as social specialization, which is the specialization of individuals rather than their work. The book also mentions the act of departmentalization. This is a form of horizontal differentiation that refers to the way which management groups differentiate activities divisions, work groups, etc in order to achieve the organization's goals in the most effective manner. Vertical differentiation is another form of differentiation within an organizational structure. It refers to the number of levels in an organization. The book states that the pattern of vertical differentiation is often assumed to represent the hierarchy of authority. Within these organizations there are a few different types of specific structures. The first being a flat structure. This consists of a small number of managers, but a large number of "first-level" employees. Another structure is a tall structure. A tall structure consists of many different levels of managers and quite a bit of separation of power and task differentiation. The second dimension used in organizational structures is formalization, which our book refers to as the extent to which mechanisms such as rules and regulations, job descriptions, and policies and procedures govern the operation of a sport organization. A few reasons for formalization are that it can help monitor the behavior of employees, replace direct supervision, which can prove to be very costly, and creating a sense of consistency and clarity within the entire organization. The last of the three dimensions that the book describes is centralization. The book explains that a centralized organization generally gets its decision making from the top, whereas decentralized organizations make decisions at lower levels. Centralization can be a useful tool or combat the organizations attempt to achieve its goals. The book gives a few advantages and disadvantages of both. Overall, the chapter describes the three dimensions of an organization, which allows sport managers to look deeper into the structure of their organizations.