Felicity conditions of a theory of expert leadership in professional football

MIGHTEN, Eddie (2020). Felicity conditions of a theory of expert leadership in professional football. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00328


This thesis is a critical investigation of a theory of expert leadership (hereafter TEL) and has the central aim of theory development. In proposing a TEL, Goodall (2012) argues that those at the top of organisations should be among the best experts in their industry, as opposed to general, professional managers. Empirical support for the TEL and its effects are reported in a small number of studies that show positive correlations between expert leadership and organisational performance. Moreover, expert leaders are thought to gain credibility and respect and are better able to understand motivations and values of followers having been one of them. Whilst these findings are interesting and imply something important in terms of what we might look for when choosing leaders, they raise conceptual and methodological concerns that were the starting point for this study. My approach draws on Gadamer’s (1989) conceptualisation of hermeneutics and Josselson’s (2011b) narrative approach in what I described as hermeneutic storytelling to account for the lived experiences of managers in the backdrop of men’s professional football, on the assumption that stories about our lives are representations of reality. To explore this phenomenon, I borrow from J. L. Austin's (1962) work, How to Do Things With Words, and the idea of felicity conditions, as a theoretical lens to understand expert leadership influence. Felicity conditions refer to criteria that must be in place and satisfied for performative acts to achieve their purpose. As a theoretical contribution to knowledge I found first that, for expert leadership influence to be felicitous, football managers need to meet, in the requisite way, conditions of; authority and be authorised beyond the position they hold; which is granted by virtue of authenticity, in the way they operate in relation to others; and sincerity, with thoughts, intentions and motivations that embodied the virtue. This is mediated by interplay of thoughts, beliefs and expectations of people who interact with football managers and also what is rooted in historically affected cultures and traditions. Second, there is a dark side to this leadership that undeniably exists and in any study involving people who have great authority and hold powerful positions this reality needs to be truthfully told. Third, as a practical contribution my thesis proposes the Human Resources (HR) profession, and recruitment in general, moves away from traditional competency and behavioural practice, to selecting leaders on a values-based process, that assesses the fit of human values and the cultural of an organisation. My thesis allows the reader to reimagine expert leadership and proposes the need to examine what is human about the phenomenon in question. I conclude, the TEL is a paradoxical mix of perceptions of leadership qualities, human conditions and performativity in context.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Martin, Emma
Thesis advisor - Allan, Paul
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Emma Martin / Supervisor: Dr. Paul Allan
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00328
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2020 15:07
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 14:01
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27682

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