Charlotte Cabane, Universität St. Gallen

AthletenWerk im Gespräch mit Prof. Ph.D. Charlotte Cabane von der Universität St. Gallen über die positiven Effekte des Sports auf den einzelnen Mitarbeiter (z. B. eine bessere persönliche Entwicklung und ein höheres Gehalt) und die positiven Auswirkungen auf den gesamten Arbeitsmarkt.

You are doing research on the correlation between sports and the labour market. What are the results of your studies?

We find that individuals who are or were sporty fare better on the labour market. More precisely, they have higher salaries and a higher probability to have managerial responsibilities. These effects come from an improvement of their health and an increase in their human capital. These results are in line with the literature in sports economics: there is a positive correlation between sports participation and labour market outcomes.

Does this mean those who have done sports develop particular skills that make them more attractive for the labour market? What are these skills that make employees/job seekers successful?

Indeed, we believe that part of the positive effect of sports participation translates via an increase in soft skills such as team work, competitive spirit, self-confidence, self-discipline, endurance and stress relief. These skills are not necessarily taught at school. However, they are extremely valued on the labor market. Also, firms are likely to pay attention to such extra-curricular activity in order to assess the individual’s endowment in soft skills.

Are there differences between men and women?

Yes, we do observe differences between men and women. It is important to underline the fact that men and women do not participate in the same type of sports activities. Indeed, women are more likely to engage in individual sports while men are more likely to engage in team sport. There are also differences in terms of frequency and intensity. It is therefore rather complicated to compare men and women (and thus to interpret differences in sport effects between men and women).

From your experience, are people with a sporting background generally better prepared for managerial tasks? Why?

We found – in a study using North-American data – that there is a strong and significant correlation between childhood sport (especially individual sport) and managerial responsibilities. The fact that individuals with a sporting background are more likely to be managers can be explained by their soft skill endowment. As said before, sport is likely to increase soft skills such as team work, self-confidence, self-discipline and stress relief and such skills are very important for managers.

Do you see any advantages for managers to look beyond their area of expertise and benefit from top athletes as to get some impulse to further develop their own skills?

It is very important to consider the different sources of knowledge that increase individual’s human capital. Soft skills are extremely relevant and they are usually developed via non-formal education i. e. extra-curricular activities such as sport. Therefore, I believe that borrowing examples from sport to explain specific situations in business is an interesting and helpful idea. Indeed, top athletes as well as managers work in teams, invest in resources, and have to cope with stress for example.

Weiterführende Links

Physical activity of adults: A survey of correlates, determinants, and effects

Sports, exercise, and labor market outcomes

The Hard Facts Behind Soft Skills

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