In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Sports Settings in Management Research

  • Introduction
  • Reviews
  • American Football
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Ice Hockey
  • Motorsports
  • Olympics and NSOs
  • Soccer
  • Nonathlete Studies in Sport Settings
  • Other Sports

Management Sports Settings in Management Research
Paolo Aversa, Patrick Hallila
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 July 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 July 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0205


In recent years, scholars have increasingly engaged with the use of sports settings to advance management theory. This stream of literature departs from the ‘Sport Management’ conversation, as it aims to move beyond the appreciation of the mere empirical sport phenomenon to advance a theoretical contribution with broader generalizability to other settings. The purpose of this bibliography is to present an organized overview of some of the relevant empirical works which can act as guides to scholars interested in conducting management research using sports data. Sports settings are becoming increasingly popular among management scholars due to the large availability of fine-grained data, well-defined performance metrics, and transparency of changes in strategies and processes. Also, sports settings are considered to be relatively controlled environments, which resemble laboratory conditions. These factors make sports data particularly suitable for quantitative studies, which have been so far more common than qualitative ones. Yet sports data can also ideally suit qualitative research. For example, sporting events are incredibly well documented and often collect multiple informants’ interviews impromptu, thus making them excellent settings for archival, historical, and in-depth case studies. This bibliography aims to provide readers with selected examples of both excellent quantitative and qualitative studies in different sports settings. The first section of the bibliography presents some past literature reviews on how sports data has been used in management research and some suggestions on future research topics in sports settings. Following this, the bibliography summarizes the sports settings which are most popular in management research. We show that especially the various US major league sports (baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey) have been prominent settings for management research. In addition to US major sports, other popular sports settings included in this bibliography are soccer, motorsports, national sports organizations (NSOs) and the Olympics. The bibliography also includes a section on the less common sports that have been used in previous research and a section on studies examining other actors in sports than players and managers.


Only a few literature review papers have been published on advancing management research by using sports data. The most recent review is Day, et al. 2012, and two older reviews that can be helpful are Wolfe, et al. 2005 and Keidel 1987.

  • Day, David V., Sandy Gordon, and Corinna Fink. “The Sporting Life: Exploring Organizations through the Lens of Sport.” Academy of Management Annals 6.1 (2012): 397–433.

    DOI: 10.5465/19416520.2012.678697

    This review is primarily focused on literature from organizational behavior and sport science. Besides reviewing the literature, the work provides readers with some suggestions regarding future research in this field.

  • Keidel, Robert W. “Team Sports Models as a Generic Organizational Framework.” Human Relations 40.9 (1987): 591–612.

    DOI: 10.1177/001872678704000904

    This is the oldest literature review on sports studies, which summarizes some of the early works on American team sports. The article aims to identify connections between Keidel’s sports-model framework and constructs from the management literature.

  • Wolfe, Richard A., Karl E. Weick, John M. Usher, et al. “Sport and Organizational Studies: Exploring Synergy.” Journal of Management Inquiry 14.2 (2005): 182–210.

    DOI: 10.1177/1056492605275245

    This article reviews management and organizational research in sport settings. In this article, the authors review the literature and describe in detail the advantages of using sports settings in management research.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.