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Understanding coach dismissals in European professional football: A new institutional perspective

Rasmus Nissen (Department of Leadership and Corporate Strategy, University of Southern Denmark, Slagelse, Denmark)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 11 May 2015




The purpose of this paper is to outline a theoretical framework that can be used to understand coach dismissals in professional football.


In order to embed the suggested framework empirically and thereby strengthen the argumentation, a total of 90 management accounts from 18 Danish professional football clubs have been analyzed using a qualitative content analysis approach. The accounts cover a period of five consecutive seasons.


The analysis shows that dismissing the coach is a frequent occurrence in Danish clubs. This finding is included in the discussion, in which it is suggested that a coach dismissal may be the outcome of mimetic, coercive or normative isomorphism.

Research limitations/implications

The applied methodology makes it difficult to assess whether coach dismissals actually stem from institutional forces. A more extensive research design and methodological setup is required in order to elaborate the proposed framework.

Practical implications

By focussing on the dynamics of club-stakeholder relationships, the proposed framework can be seen as an attempt to clarify key features of the decision-making process surrounding coach dismissals in European professional football. Furthermore, the framework suggests that in order for a club to stay attractive to its stakeholders, and thereby increase its chances of securing future financial support, club directors should pay attention to their external environment.


In contrast to existing research, this study does not aim at assessing whether a coach dismissal pays off in terms of wins on the pitch. Instead, a qualitative approach has been selected in order to offer a framework that aims at providing an in-depth understanding of coach dismissals in professional football.



Nissen, R. (2015), "Understanding coach dismissals in European professional football: A new institutional perspective ", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 89-106.



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