Laura Bradshaw

It’s Not Rocket Science: A Phenomenological Study of Innovation in Elite Sport.

Laura Bradshaw

Laura completed her PhD at Loughborough University London studying under the Institute for Sport Business. Her cross-industry research focused on sports business innovation in high performing organisations.

Prior to her studies at London, Laura graduated from Coventry University with an MBA in International Sports Management and Glyndwr University with a BSc in Sports Science. Laura holds various qualifications in athlete lifestyle management, previously working as an athlete manager in football and at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee.

PhD research description

Laura's PhD research aimed to understand how organisational innovation was being used to improve performance both on and off the field. The research identified pockets of innovation in sport which was mostly concentrated in sports performance, and sports science and medicine. Therefore, it was useful to widen the scope of organisations to understand how innovation was being used for competitive advantage beyond sport. The research provided a greater understanding of why the organisations were innovating, how they were innovating (the processes of innovation such player development, player performance, staff development, R&D) and the consequences of innovating (performance outcomes). The research project covered a wide geographical area, visiting organisations in UK, Spain, Portugal, and the US to collect qualitative data through interviews. Laura used phenomenology as the philosophical framework for the study, which captured individuals lived experience of innovation on the front line.

The research investigated how performance was improved by organisational innovation, by focusing on cross-industry high-performing organisations such as NASA, The United Nations, UN Women, Military: Special Forces, FC Barcelona, SL Benfica, Studio Wayne McGregor, and Sports Interactive: Football Manager. The research focused on the innovative activities, processes, practices, and strategies of these leading organisations to find out how the entire organisation innovated their organisational performance. 

To understand how to create a highly innovative organisation, Laura undertook an analysis of elite organisations who had all developed innovative practices. This aimed to identify performance characteristics that emerged,  to contribute to a wider understanding of organisational innovation. The research project offered exciting opportunities for future implementation at a practitioner level and contributed to a future research agenda. Laura successfully completed her project in October 2020.

PhD supervisors

Laura is studying for her PhD within the Institute for Sport Business under the supervision of Professor James Skinner,  Dr Steve Swanson and Professor Aaron Smith.

Awards, grants or scholarships received

Laura was awarded the PhD scholarship from the Institute for Sport Business, the Santander PhD International Exchange Award, and multiple Santander Travel Mobility Awards.

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