The Impact of Deep-Level Similarity on Career Advancement Intentions among High Level Executives in Athletics

Date of Completion

January 2011


Health Sciences, Recreation




Recent reviews in business (e.g., Harrison, Price, Gavin & Florey, 2002; Riordan, 2000, 2008) and in sport literatures (e.g., Cunningham, 2007; Avery. Tonidandel & Philips, 2008) have devoted a great deal of attention to issues related to deep-level characteristics and their influences on work related outcomes. This current study tested a model that examined possible antecedents (i.e., personality traits, empowerment, and surface-level similarity) to deep-level similarly and the extent to which organizational attitude (i.e., affective commitment for the leader) mediated perceived deep-level similarity and career advancement intentions. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), survey data were randomly collected from 314 associate athletic directors (associate ADs) from Division I, II and III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). ^ Hypothesis 1a through 1e predicted personality traits (i.e., agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience) were either positively (i.e., agreeableness, extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to experience) or negatively (i.e., neuroticism) related to perceptions of deep-level similarity with the athletic director (AD). Only conscientiousness was found to be a good predictor of perceived deep-level similarity.^ Hypothesis 2 predicted that psychological empowerment was positively related to perceived deep-level similarity and this relationship was supported.^ Hypothesis 3 predicted that perceived surface-level similarity was positively related to perceived deep-level similarity. This relationship was found to be significant.^ Hypothesis 4 predicted that perceived deep-level similarity was positively related to affective commitment for the AD. The study found evidence to support this contention.^ Finally, hypothesis 5 predicted that the affective commitment for the AD will mediate the relationship between perceived deep-level similarity and career advancement intentions. Full mediation of these relationships was established in this study. Overall, these results provide strong support for the conceptual model that was advanced in this study.^ The study contributed to the literature of organizational leadership and diversity by answering calls for newer approaches to diversity related issues in sport organizations (e.g., Cunningham, 2005; Fink, Pastore, & Riemer, 2001). The discussion of findings included possible interpretations of the results, limitations and implications both at the theoretical and managerial levels.^