Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Kinesiology - Sport Management

Document Type



Modern sport management scholars have looked to pair the fields of positive organizational behavior (POB) and human resource development (HRD) with sport management to enhance the productivity of sport organizations through their employees (see Kim et al., 2019; Kim et al., 2023a; Kim et al., 2023b; Kim et al., 2017; Oja et al., 2015, 2020; Oja et al., 2022; Schuetz et al., 2022; Zvosec et al., 2021). One area of study that has received recent attention amongst sport management scholars is meaningful work (Baer et al., 2021; Oja et al., 2022), an emerging employee well-being metric whose definition is often debated by HRD scholars and philosophers (Lysova et al., 2019; Yeoman et al., 2019). As such, to develop conceptual clarity regarding meaningful work, it is then necessary to explore the meanings (in life or in work) that practitioners attribute to meaningful work.

The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the ways in which sport employees conceptualize meaningful work. Semistructured interviews with 32 sport employees were conducted (Creswell, 2013; Merriam & Tisdell, 2016; Ravitch & Carl, 2021). Participants were recruited from three different types of sport organizations: professional (10 participants), intercollegiate (nine participants), and community/recreational (13 participants). Through analysis of interview data, the following themes were identified: sport employees’ definitions of meaningful work, why working in sport is meaningful, sport employees and their call to work, methods by which sport employees see meaningful work, and how the meaningfulness of working in the sport industry changes as a member of a marginalized community. Discussion will focus on the ways in which sport employees define and experience meaningful work in their jobs. Findings offer valuable implications for practitioners of sport management, as well as the emerging scholarly field of HRD in sport management, and the evolving scholarly and philosophical discourse surrounding meaningful work.



Committee Chair

Claire Zvosec