Exploring Dual Career Development Environments Across Europe: A Holistic Ecological Approach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)

Abstract

De Brandt, Koen1; Wylleman, Paul1; Defruyt, Simon1; Smismans, Sofie1; Morris, Robert2; Deason, Emily2; Taelman, Kristel3 1Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; 2Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom; 3Sport Vlaanderen, Belgium; koen.de.brandt@vub.be Aim & Research Questions This presentation discusses environmental factors that impact athletes’ dual career (DC) experiences by (1) identifying and classifying common types of dual career development environments (DCDE) across Europe, (2) identifying the criteria European DCDEs use to assess the effectiveness of their environment, and (3) case studying a Belgian DCDE using a holistic ecological approach (Henriksen & Stambulova, 2017). Background & Literature Review One of the key challenges athletes face is combining elite sport with other pursuits such as education and/or work. A recent review of Stambulova & Wylleman (2018) illustrates that research on athletes’ dual career (DC) pathway has increased dramatically over the past decade, but also addresses that research is lacking that considers the “whole” dual career environment. In response to this research gap, the Erasmus+ Sport project “Ecology of Dual Career” (ECO-DC) was launched in 2018 with the support of the European Commission. ECO-DC aims to develop a taxonomy of European DCDEs, identify their criteria of effectiveness, study cases of (un)successful DCDEs, and develop recommendations and tools to assist DCDEs (ECO-DC, 2018). The research presented focuses on the European results of ECO-DC’s first work package and the Belgian results of the second work package. Research Design, Methodology and Data Analysis To address the first two objectives, researchers from seven countries (i.e., Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom) initially performed online document research on the different DCDEs in their country, and afterwards conducted face-to-face interviews and/or focus groups with national DC stakeholders. Thematic analysis was used to develop a taxonomy of DCDEs and classify their effectiveness criteria. To address the third objective, a Belgian elite sport school was selected as a DCDE case. Data were collected through 22 semi-structured interviews with athletes and related DC actors in policy, sport, school, boarding school, and athletes’ private life. Participants were asked to reflect on different micro (e.g. key relationships) and macro (e.g. DC culture) aspects of the DC environment. Interviews were enriched with onsite observations and document analysis. Case study findings were summarized in two working models based on the holistic ecological models of Henriksen & Stambulova (2017): the DCDE model and the DC Environment Success Factors (DC-ESF) model. Research Findings and Discussion 533 In total, 57 DCDEs across the seven countries were identified, resulting in eight types of DCDEs: sports friendly schools, elite sport schools/colleges, professional and/or private club programs, sport friendly universities, combined dual career systems, national sport programs, defence force programs, and players union programs. Seven key features were considered when categorizing the environments (e.g., the athletic career stage supported, the educational level targeted, the nature and scope of the DCDE, if the DCDE was centralized or decentralized). The criteria DCDEs use to assess their effectiveness were categorized under ‘overall satisfaction of DC’, ‘wellbeing’, ‘academic achievement’, ‘sport achievement’, ‘program flexibility’, ‘athlete resources and skills’, ‘dropout from DC’, and ‘facilities and service provision’. The case study analysis is on-going, and final results will be available beginning of May 2019. Preliminary findings show that the DCDE manages to successfully support athletes’ DC pathway based on strong environmental preconditions (e.g., proximity and quality of facilities), processes (e.g., close and flexible collaboration between different actors, clear agreements and borders, individualized support), and a clear DC philosophy that puts emphasis on sport performances with athletes’ holistic development and wellbeing as key conditions. The DCDE and DC Environment Success Factors (DC-ESF) models will be presented at the conference. Conclusion, Contribution and Implication In conclusion, this series of studies implemented a holistic ecological approach to investigate DCDEs across Europe, and therefore advances the existing DC literature that tends to focus on the individual experiences of DC athletes. A taxonomy of DCDEs was developed, which can serve as a framework to compare characteristics of similar DCDEs and function as a base for future in-depth case studies. The effectiveness criteria identified not only covered measures related to athletes’ athletic and academic development, but also their psychological, psychosocial, and financial development, which adds emphasis to the importance of a holistic approach to evaluate DCDEs. We anticipate that the results of the case study will further support the holistic ecological approach to DCDEs and assist in developing recommendations and practical tools to monitor and improve the effectiveness of DCDEs. References Henriksen, K., & Stambulova, N. (2017). Creating optimal environments for talent development: A holistic ecological approach. In J. Baker, S. Cobley J. Schorer, and N. Wattie (Eds.) Routledge handbook of talent identification and development in sport (pp. 271-284). London and New York: Routledge.
 
 Stambulova, N. B., & Wylleman, P. (2018). Psychology of athletes’ dual careers: A state-of- the-art critical review of the European discourse. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 42(August 2018), 74–88. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.11.013
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAbstract book of the 27th European Sport Management Conference
Subtitle of host publicationConnecting sport practice and science
EditorsTim Breitbarth, Guillaume Bodet, Alvaro Fernandez Luna, Pablo Burillo Naranjo, Gerardo Bielons
Publisher EASM (European Association of Sport Management)
Pages533-534
Number of pages2
ISBN (Print)9788409140688
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sep 2019
EventEuropean Association for Sport Management (EASM) 2019 - Seville, Spain
Duration: 3 Sep 20196 Sep 2019

Conference

ConferenceEuropean Association for Sport Management (EASM) 2019
Country/TerritorySpain
CitySeville
Period3/09/196/09/19

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring Dual Career Development Environments Across Europe: A Holistic Ecological Approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this