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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Travel Grant Report

28.05.2017, by Sibylle Classen in grant report

Katrien Fransen (Leuven, Belguim)
Research visit at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

During my 3-month research stay at the University of Queensland (February – April 2017), I collaborated with the leading professors of the Faculty of Psychology (Prof. Alex Haslam, Prof. Nik Steffens, and Prof. Kim Peters) and the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences (Prof. Cliff Mallett). This collaboration between the departments ensured both high-quality theoretical psychological insights and a sound application in a sports setting.

In this report I will shortly outline the most important goals that I have attained during this 3-month period. First, the main aim was to develop a joint leadership program aimed at improving the leadership qualities of leaders within the team. In order to develop a high-quality program, we brought together the expertise on shared leadership (from myself), with the expertise on the social identity approach to leadership (Prof. Alex Haslam, Prof. Nik Steffens, and Prof. Kim Peters) and the sport-specific expertise on working with elite level teams (Prof. Cliff Mallett). Furthermore, to develop a cutting-edge program, we combined state-of-the-art techniques of leadership identification (that I have developed previously) and of social identity mapping (developed by the group of Prof. Alex Haslam). Altogether, this team work resulted in the design of the 5R-Shared Leadership Program, which aims at maximizing the leadership potential within teams, both in organizational and sports teams. To test the effectiveness of the newly designed program, we set up a case study with one of the best Rugby Union teams over the world (based in Australia), participating in the Super rugby Cup. During my research stay, we rolled out the program and collected both quantitative and qualitative data. The reactions are very positive so far. The program is still continuing at the moment. After its completion, a joint article will be written on this case study. In addition, a large-scale intervention program was conducted in Belgium to test the effectiveness of the program on a larger scale. Furthermore, a joint article on the new program is almost ready and will be submitted soon:

Fransen, K., Haslam, S. A., Steffens, N., Mallett, C., Peters, K., & Boen, F. (2017). Implementing an effective shared leadership structure and maximizing the leadership potential in the team: The 5R-Shared Leadership Program. Manuscript in progress.

Furthermore, several other aims were attained during this research visit, as well as new opportunities that came along.

  • We had several meetings with all the mentioned professors above in order to prepare for our joint application of an ARC Linkage Grant (Australian Research Council). Meetings with cooperating partners in the applied setting were organized and a concrete
  • guiding plan was constructed to maximize our chances on success. The application is planned to be submitted at the end of 2017.
  • Together with these professors, a research proposal for the Research Foundation of Flanders was written and submitted.
  • The cooperation with Prof. Nik Steffens and with Prof. Katharine Greenaway on ongoing projects was strengthened and progression towards data analysis and writing up was obtained. This cooperation will lead to three more joint articles in the future.
  • I obtained more insight in the technique of Social Identity Mapping, a technique developed by Prof. Tegan Cruwys (working in the group of Alex Haslam).
  • The organization of our joint conference (the International Conference on Social Identity and Sport), also supported by EASP, was further optimized. In addition, concrete plans were made for an associated book and a first outline of contributors was completed. In the meanwhile, the publisher (SAGE) is contacted. Together, we will finalize these plans during our conference (1-2 July 2017).
  • A new cooperation with Neela Mühlemann of the University of Zurich (also a visitor at UQ when I was there) was started on a project on shared leadership within organizations. The data collection was started and the results will lead to a joint article in the future.

In conclusion, I want to highlight that this research stay has further strengthened our cooperation towards the future. Prof. Nik Steffens, for example, has formally become cosupervisor of my PhD student Niels Mertens, who also joined me for a month on this research stay. Soon, they will all be in Leuven for our conference on social identity and sport. There are several ongoing projects and even more plans for the future. It was thus a truly enriching experience, for which I want to thank EASP sincerely for their contribution to make this happen!