University of Twente Student Theses


Does HRM matter for professional soccer organizations? A research on the HRM-performance relationship for PSO's

Heijden, L. (Leon) E. van der (2012) Does HRM matter for professional soccer organizations? A research on the HRM-performance relationship for PSO's.

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Abstract:In every professional sports competition there are teams that over- or underperform in terms of their available resources. The non-fiction book ‘Moneyball: the art of winning an unfair game’, written by Michael Lewis (2003), describes the story about a relatively small baseball team that manages to compete with the bigger teams by implementing a unique HRM policy. In light of the Moneyball story this research analyzes the HRM-Performance relationship for five Dutch professional soccer organizations (PSO’s). This is done both qualitatively and quantitatively, on the basis of the well-known HRM-Performance model of Paauwe and Richardson (1997) that is adapted to fit the professional soccer industry. The PSO’s that have been investigated are: Ajax, AZ, FC Twente, Feyenoord and PSV. These are the five biggest PSO’s of the Netherlands in terms of support and ambition. The qualitative part of the research entails the analysis of HRM related interviews with relevant club officials in over 400 magazines of ‘Voetbal International’ covering the past decade (2001-2011), the analysis of over 25 documents published by the PSO’s during this time period (e.g. annual reports) and the corroboration of the assumed views on HRM by means of an interview with a former head coach and director of football. The quantitative part of the research entails collecting and analyzing seven years of statistical data about the HRM outcomes and sports outcomes of the individual PSO’s. The data contains over 1900 player records (including market value, age, years at club, national and international experience, etc.) describing over 600 individual players and the sports outcomes of the five PSO’s in the league, cup and European competitions. The results of the research show that all of the investigated PSO’s at some point in time created a long term view for the club. Without exception these long term views included policies for recruitment and selection with a focus on scouting talented young players that have development potential and maintaining a steady inflow of youth players into the first team from the youth department. Policies for player compensation are often in place but are mostly mentioned in combination with a restructuring to cut the budget. Other policies remain relatively underexposed. The continuation of the policies and the adherence to the long term view have proven to be a problem for most PSO’s. This is often in retrospect attributed to the external pressure of media and supporters. The only PSO that has generally adhered to its original long term view and policies is FC Twente resulting in a steady growth from an almost bankruptcy to a championship in seven years’ time. The direct influence of the HRM policies, on both the HRM outcomes and the sports outcomes is demonstrated by the analysis of the data. When a deviation from the HRM policy arises, either intended (i.e. policy changes) or unintended (i.e. conflict, financial distress, opportunism), the implementation time is almost zero because of the high volatility of the soccer industry. This is an advantage when unexpected things happen such as injuries, but it is also a disadvantage since a few changes can have a large impact on performance. The possibility of reverse causality is considered and the relationship seems to be negative rather than positive. When the sports outcomes are good the PSO’s seem less inclined to strictly implement their policies. This can be regarded as a dangerous pitfall for PSO’s when it comes to their HRM policy. Finally the research has shown that the HRM outcomes (i.e. employee skills, attitudes and behaviors) significantly influence the sports outcomes of a PSO.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Industrial Engineering and Management MSc (60029)
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