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Transformational leadership and the ethics of sports coaching

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Title: Transformational leadership and the ethics of sports coaching
Start date: October 2020
Location: Colchester Campus, University of Essex
Based in: School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences
This project can be offered either on a full-time or a part-time basis.
Please note that this is not a funded studentship.

As a social context capable of affecting others’ rights and wellbeing, sport represents an important setting for the development of ethical thought and action (Bandura, 1991).

Researchers in both developmental and sport psychology emphasise the important role coaches play in the socialising of young people within sport and the influence the habits they form both in terms of skill development and moral functioning (Côté, Bruner, Erickson, Strachan, & Fraser-Thomas, 2010). By modelling and either tacitly or explicitly endorsing appropriate or inappropriate behaviour, coaches play a particularly influential role in the moral development of their athletes (Weiss et al., 2008).

Given the importance of this function, researchers have begun to develop our understanding of individual differences in ethical leadership (Mills & Boardley, 2017a, 2017b) and moral processing within sport (for a full review see Boardley, 2018) combine to create a moral atmosphere (Kavussanu, Roberts, & Ntoumanis, 2002; Shields & Bredemeier, 2007; Benson, Bruner, & Eys, 2017). What is less known, however, is the long-term impact the coach and coaching environment has on individual athlete moral development and the ethical judgements athletes make?

This project specifically seeks to investigate the impact of sport coaches’ ethical intentions and actions have on athlete behaviours, cognitions, emotions, and well-being. Given the broad scope of the research, successful candidates may select their particular area of interest within this remit.

Bass and Steidlemeier’s (1999) conceptualisation of transformational leadership underpins the research and other relevant theories may be integrated as appropriate.

Researchers with experience of qualitative and quantitative methodologies are encouraged to apply; with the resultant methodology selected informed by the research question posed.

Entry requirements

You will have a good undergraduate and/or Masters degree in a related subject (eg a sub-discipline of psychology) and a deep interest in sports leadership.

The student will also require an undergraduate Honours degree with a minimum classification of 2:1 or equivalent, research experience in the form of undergraduate or MSc dissertation in sport psychology or related field, and an English language qualification for international students.

For informal discussions about this studentship, please contact the project supervisor Dr John Mills.

How to apply

In the first instance, you should submit a CV, cover letter, and one-page research proposal to detailing your interest in the project. From there, you can apply here:

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