The concept of the `sport business metaphor' refers to the extensive use of sport analogies in
the corporate sector and represents the way in which positive attitudes to sport are embedded
in corporate culture. Whilst positive perceptions of sport have permeated corporate culture in
many ways and attitudes towards sport are clearly positive, the concept has never been
The purpose of this study was to empirically research the `sport business metaphor' and
provide insight into the values it embodied. The research used a mixed-methods strategy that
involved three phases. The first, a systematic review, identified the skills that were perceived
to be characteristic of an effective manager. The second used semi-structured interviews with
sport coaches and business recruiters to ascertain whether sport was perceived to develop the
skills that were identified by the systematic review. The third and final phase used the Multi-
Factor Leadership Questionnaire to measure perceptions of leadership in athletes and nonathletes,
and reflected findings that leadership was the skill desired most by the corporate
sector in the first two phases of research.
Findings indicated that the corporate sector, as reflected in the literature and interviews,
perceived sport to develop the skills that they perceived as desirable. Significant differences
in SELF and OTHERS ratings of perceptions of leadership in athletes and non-athletes further
strengthened these findings, by reporting that athletes scored higher in all measures of
transformational leadership. These results provided valuable insight into the values that the
`sport business metaphor' embodied. Three models were developed as a result of research:
The Developmental Exchange Model of Sport, The Model of Mental Toughness and The
Sport Business Transferability Model.
Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.