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The perfect petri dish | Ideas@Beedie
Peter Tingling on the importance of researching business in sports.
"Tingling’s true research interests lie in decision-making. Over the course of his career, however, he has discovered that sport, and in particular the National Hockey League (NHL), makes for an excellent laboratory to test his hypotheses and he has become an advocate for using sport data to test organizational theories.
In the process, he has become something of an expert, in particular on the NHL draft, an event that he finds a fascinating phenomenon, with many parallels to other business sectors. “Everyone makes decisions” he says “and while I would love to be invited to compare and contrast decision making at the big five Canadian banks, so far that has not happened. On the other hand, however, the NHL has been extremely supportive. I have been to several annual drafts and seen the 30 General Managers make hundreds of high stakes career and performance decisions.”
Tingling says that sports research is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, professional sport is an important business sector in its own right, with huge sums of money involved at the top level. Secondly, decisions in sport generate more discussion than many other sectors, so the interest in sport demands it be examined further.
The third, and perhaps most important reason for Tingling, revolves around the transparency and availability of data in sport, and the consistency among sporting organizations that allows researchers a proxy for counter factual testing to some degree.
“In business it’s very hard to compare one company against another – it is frequently suggested that organizations are idiosyncratic,” says Tingling. “There is only one HP and only one Apple, but in the NHL there are thirty teams, all operating under the same restrictions. It is a lot easier to compare the Detroit Red Wings to the Vancouver Canucks than it is to compare Intel to Apple. So sport acts as a perfect petri dish to test business theories.”
"Along with fellow Beedie associate professor Michael Brydon, Tingling has presented some of his research on the NHL draft at the 2010 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, an annual conference for industry professionals to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the global sports industry. His presentation has become one of the top ten most viewed videos on the MIT Sloan website, with over 5000 views.
In addition, his paper, “Does Order Matter? An Empirical Analysis of the NHL Draft,” examined the success of NHL teams in choosing which players they draft. Published in Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal in 2011, and co-written by Beedie colleagues Kamal Masri and Matt Martell, the research found that NHL teams were missing out on potential gems in the later rounds of the draft by devoting the majority of their resources to the early rounds."
Link to full article: http://beedie.sfu.ca/ideas/2013/08/the-perfect-petri-dish/