Authenticity: Do Athletes Choose to be Real at their Workplace?

Authenticity in Sports


  • Yusuf Hassan Indian Institute of Management, Indore
  • Ranjeet Nambudiri Indian Institute of Management Indore


Authenticity, Sports, Cricket, Premier leagues, Neoliberal sports


Research Problem: Authenticity at work has been receiving attention from scholars and practitioners in recent years. Studies have identified the critical role of authenticity in organizational attractiveness, job satisfaction, turnover intent and the overall well-being of the employees. However, research on authenticity at the workplace has primarily focused on traditional business settings. Very few studies have explored the implications of authenticity in dynamic workplaces such as the sports arena. The current study aims to address this gap in the authenticity literature by examining the experience of authenticity among elite athletes. It also tries to identify and examine factors that facilitate and impede authenticity in sports.

Research Methods: The study has followed an inductive qualitative research design. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with a cross-cultural sample.

Results and Findings: Findings of the current study transcend the professional and personal space of the athletes to explain their understanding of authenticity. It suggests that apart from autonomy, relational orientation and self-awareness, passion forms an important dimension of authentic self for athletes.

Discussion & Implications: The current study leaves important theoretical and managerial implications. It extends current scholarship on self-determination theory and social identity theory by examining the two framework in the context of sports. Our findings also suggest that authenticity can attribute the idea of sportsmanship, teamwork and passion among athletes, and can result in a long term behavioural manifestations desirable for the athlete and the sport in general.


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