Texas A&M professor and associate dean for academic affairs and research, Dr. George Cunningham, is part of the first known book discussing the process of developing theory in sport management. Routledge Handbook of Theory in Sport Management is meant to “explain, critique and celebrate the importance of sport management theory in academic research, teaching and learning, and in the development of professional practice.”
“The progress of any academic discipline can be shown in a lot of ways,” said Dr. Cunningham. “One of the main ways is the development of theory. This book is a good way of taking stock of that theory and where we can go.”
After taking part in a scholarly exchange in 2011, Dr. Cunningham and the other co-authors began developing the handbook. They researched and identified highly influential international sport management scholars from all over the world and requested a book chapter on how they developed individual theories.
“One way of approaching it would have been ‘here’s the theory.’ That doesn’t sound like much fun to me,” said Dr. Cunningham. “So looking at how the theory was developed and how others used it is a nice addition. It makes it possible to learn about the theory and learn about the developmental process.”
The final product is a 33-chapter collection, broken down into four categories: managerial, marketing, sociological and economic. Each chapter explores a theory, including the process of development and how the theory has been employed in research, as well as examples from others who have used the theory in their work.
“I hope the book accomplishes a number of objectives,” said Dr. Cunningham. “First, I hope it provides an overview of the vast array of theories in our field, and second, I hope it prompts new inquiries, new questions asked, and ultimately more theory development.”