Management Team Diversity and Misconduct by Male Professional Athletes

Mary Graham (SPM) PI, Bhavneet Walia (PH) co-PI, William Horrace (Economics) co-I.
Intramural Sponsored Project – 2019-2020 SU CUSE Grant – Innovative & Interdisciplinary Research, $20,000.

Organizations and managers have a strong interest in preventing and redressing employee misconduct, which is voluntary behavior that deviates from prevailing norms. When employees are admired public figures, as is often the case with professional athletes, the negative consequences of misconduct to organizations may be more likely and more severe, than in other contexts. This research project represents the first examination of the organizational determinants of misconduct by high-profile employees of professional sports teams.

Our focus is on the relationship between the demographic composition of the National Football League (NFL) managers and player misconduct. This particular research project builds on an earlier quantitative study that found empirical support for the theory-based hypothesis that NFL teams employing a critical mass of women executives experience fewer subsequent player arrests. In this follow-up, qualitative field study, we will interview NFL executives to gain their insights on the gender and race/ethnic dynamics within managerial and executive groups to understand the processes underpinning the association between demographic composition and employee misconduct. Together, the quantitative and qualitative results will present a comprehensive study of the association between managerial and executive composition and several indicators of player misconduct.