Driving and sustaining culture change in professional sport performance teams: A grounded theory

Cruickshank, A. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8893-2341, Collins, D., orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7601-0454 and Minten, S. (2015) Driving and sustaining culture change in professional sport performance teams: A grounded theory. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 20 (1). pp. 40-50. ISSN 1469-0292

[thumbnail of Author Accepted Manuscript]
PDF (Author Accepted Manuscript) - Accepted Version

Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S...



As part of the recent upsurge of work on management and organizational factors in elite sports teams, researchers have focused on the team management-led creation and regulation of high performing cultures. The purpose of this study was to therefore add to a recently developed model of culture change best practice in Olympic sports teams, as led and perceived by incoming performance directors, and conceptualize culture change best practice in professional sports teams, as led and perceived by incoming team managers.

Design and method

A pragmatic research philosophy and corresponding grounded theory methodology were used to generate a practically-meaningful model of this culture change process from the perspective of UK-based professional team managers.


Perceived best practice in team manager-led culture change was found to involve a finite phase of initial evaluation, planning, and impact adjoined to the enduring management of a holistic, integrated, and dynamic social system. With the former process acting as the catalyst for successful change, this model revealed that optimal change was felt to primarily rely on the constant acquisition, negotiation, and alignment of internal and external stakeholder perceptions.


Based on the model's principles, the optimization of professional team culture is defined by a manager's initial actions and never definitively achieved but rather constantly constructed and re-constructed in complex social and power dynamics. Beyond providing a conceptual backdrop for continued research in this area, the model is also a tool on which the practice of professional team managers and their supporting sport psychologists can be based.

Repository Staff Only: item control page