Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Health and Sport Sciences

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Hums, Mary

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Greenwell, Christopher

Committee Member

Greenwell, Christopher

Committee Member

Cumberland, Denise

Committee Member

Kluch, Yannick

Author's Keywords

disability sport; sponsorship; organizational culture; relationship marketing


Worldwide, disability sport faces funding challenges. Sponsorship offers a viable alternative to combat the lack of sustainable funding in disability sport. Exploring how organizational culture can be leveraged to increase strategic partnerships, the purposes of this multiple manuscript dissertation were to (a) examine the elements of the organizational culture that make a successful international wheelchair basketball sport club attractive to external partners and (b) determine what role those organizational cultural elements play in leveraging relationship marketing (RM) for sponsorship acquisition and retention. Utilizing an exemplar case study methodology, the focus of this study was the RSV Lahn-Dill, an international wheelchair basketball sport club which has been successful in sponsorship acquisition and retention and has a history of building a fan and organizational culture. Based on Schein’s (2010) organizational culture framework and extended by Meyerson and Martin’s (1987) framework, an analysis of external communication elements, twelve interviews, and two focus groups revealed being a pioneer, approachability, and organizational excellence as the underlying assumptions driving the RSV’s organizational culture appeal to sponsors. Further, themes of pioneering through innovation and professional family were identified as key cultural elements in leveraging relationship marketing in sponsorship acquisition. Approachability and building rapport emerged as cultural elements leveraged for sponsorship retention. This study is the first direct demonstration of sport organizational culture driving sponsorship potential and success, particularly for disability sport properties and outlines the significance of considering culture to leverage RM practices for successful sponsorship acquisition and retention in the disability sport sector.