What Is the "Team" in Team Identification?
Delia, Elizabeth Burke (author)
James, Jeffrey D. (Jeffrey Dalton) (professor directing dissertation)
Ferris, Gerald R. (university representative)
Giardina, Michael D. (committee member)
Newman, Joshua I. (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Education (degree granting college)
Department of Sport Management (degree granting department)
For decades, sport consumer behavior scholars have been interested in understanding individuals' psychological connection to sport teams. Through their efforts--including the development of concepts such as team identification--scholars have provided a foundation for subsequent research into various consumer thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors in relation to identification with or attachment to a team. However, scholars have not studied how sport consumers construct the team in regard to their psychological connection to it. Moreover, sport consumer behavior scholars have not addressed the potential fluidity and/or partiality of the sense of self one derives from supporting a team. These scholars have also often overlooked the contextual circumstances in which sport-related identities are negotiated and maintained. Collectively, the preceding shortcomings are what led me to the research I conducted in this dissertation. Given the complexity of the research aims, I conducted qualitative research with sport consumers, utilizing Syracuse University Men's Basketball as a case to study. I utilized phenomenological interviews and concept mapping to understand the meaning of team in the mind of consumers and how individuals derive a sense of self from such an entity. In conducting the research, I remained cognizant of the situational aspects of the research environment, acknowledging the temporal sensitivity of the research act. In pursuing of Research Aim 1 (i.e., to understand the meaning of "team" in team identification), I discovered that the individuals interviewed consider the coach, current and former players, fans, facility, geographic location, rivalry, and a history of success part of the "team" they identify with. I also found that the meaning of "team" varies based on its use in regard to psychological connection (i.e., identification) versus performance. Finally, I discovered that the meaning of "team" is continually changing and thus, relatively unfixed. Considering Research Aim 2 (i.e., to understand the stability and sources of identity associated with supporting the team), I discovered that the group identity of Syracuse University Men's Basketball is constructed in both a social and cultural sense, and largely influenced by history. Essentially, the sense of self individuals derive from supporting Syracuse University Men's Basketball is continually changing based on the life-world of the individuals and changes in the program; this allowed me to highlight the importance of context in studying fan identity. In addition, I discussed the enmeshed nature of group identity regarding Syracuse University Men's Basketball and Central New York. In pursuing Research Aim 3 (i.e., to understand how construction of "team" influences micro and macro consumer behavior), I found that fans, facility/location, rivalry, and history/success are all influential in thoughts and behaviors toward Syracuse University Men's Basketball, as well as the social well-being of fans. Collectively, the research I have conducted in this project allows me to contribute to the sport consumer behavior by illustrating the complex meaning of team in regard to individuals' psychological connection to sport teams. This research should be of interest to scholars and practitioners in regard to branding, targeted marketing, and consumer well-being. Future research into this area should allow scholars and practitioners to understand how the meaning of team and team-related group identities may change over time and in varied sport environments, and the influence of such on behaviors.
attachment, consumer psychology, identity, team identification
May 15, 2015.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Sport Management in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Jeffrey D. James, Professor Directing Dissertation; Gerald R. Ferris, University Representative; Michael D. Giardina, Committee Member; Joshua I. Newman, Committee Member.
Florida State University
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). The copyright in theses and dissertations completed at Florida State University is held by the students who author them.