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    Leadership Research in the Field: A Business Professor's View of Baseball

    By Rebecca Herman, PhD, Professor, School of Business and Information Technology 

    When I tell people about my chosen academic focus on leadership and organizational behavior, sometimes their eyes start to glaze over. Then I begin to explain my recent field research and those same eyes light up as they begin to realize that what I teach can be applied anywhere—even the baseball field.  

    In this research, I have been able to incorporate two of my passions—leadership and baseball—in a quest to gain practical insight about leadership and organizational behavior through a better understanding of what it takes to be a great leader in baseball.  


    Prof. Herman and Indians' Manager Manny Acta

    Baseball provides an interesting microcosm for studying the essentials of leadership. Strategy, persuasion, discipline, analysis and crisis management—these qualities are on exhibit at every playing field. After reviewing the literature and reading former managers’ stories and biographies, my research colleague Dr. Howard Fero and I set out to do some real-time field research. We met with players and interviewed major league managers, including Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Davey Johnson of the Washington Nationals, who led the New York Mets to a world championship in 1986.   


    Prof. Herman and Royals' Yost

    We are working to discover how managers gain trust from players: what it takes to motivate a diverse team, when to lead by the numbers, and when to lead from the heart. We believe our findings will benefit not just baseball enthusiasts, but industry leaders and anyone who wants a practical approach to increasing leadership effectiveness. Ultimately, we plan to publish our research in an engaging book that breaks new ground in the field of leadership practices

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