Amalgamation of ambidextrous leadership and social exchange theory among sport for development organisations
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Many organizations have made significant efforts to use sports as a tool for social development, but there are gaps in their operations that need to be addressed through the adoption of ambidextrous leadership and social exchange theory.

This article was submitted as part of our call for articles on participatory approaches in sport for development. For more information and to find out how to submit, read the call for articles.

Over the past decades and even more, there have been highly significant and visible efforts from many organisations that have adopted sport as a conundrum in their operations in diverse ways to help society, people and contributed to sport development locally and on the global level. Among these are efforts such as helping integrate forcibly displaced individuals, refugees, poor communities and talent developments in the marginalized environments. These contributions and efforts from sport-based organisations cannot be underestimated, but the need to tap them at the shoulders and motivate them. 

However, quite recently there seemingly appears isolation and systemic gaps in the operations of these sport-based organisations in their quest to make contributions to societal needs and demands. It is in line with this, that, the author makes contribution to the body of knowledge on pragmatic approaches and or participatory tactics that would help bridge this gap to foster efficiency and effective operations. The author is of the view the dire need to merge ambidextrous leadership from the sport-based organisations and social exchange theory to deal with inefficiencies, bottlenecks, delays, ‘cost’ while driving ‘benefits’, positive outcomes and effectiveness. 

Ambidextrous Leadership

A principal focus on this leadership is hinged on the ability to exploit contemporary situations by adjusting organisation’s operations while exploring prospects to reshape an organisation’s model through adoption of risks (Finzi, Firth & Lipton, 2018). This can be demonstrated by leadership of the sport-based organisations as taking risks that could reshape how the organisations create value while at the same time cuddling out inefficiencies, delays, cost etc., and implement leading practices in the contemporary organisation model. In other words, it is a combination of plausible compatible duos that reflects a reconciling tactic expected to generate a combine efforts capable of seeding a positive outcome (Akinci et al., 2022). 

Thus, there is the need to introduce improvements in existing modus operandi of sport organisation programmes to identify weaknesses, ‘cost’, delays etc., in the ever – changing environment while at the same time leadership find ways to increase productivity, economies of scale in the market and minimize the inefficiencies in their operations. However, it is worth noting that the practice of pursuing improvements and innovations in existing operation while seeking to maximize current efficiencies may be challenging, but this is the way to go in retrospect to changing dynamics in our ever – changing world.  

Hence, if the need be to box some sport-based organisations with similar functions, or put others under a parent organisation within a specified jurisdiction where terms and conditions are clearly spelt may be effective. This, as indicated, may present risks but it will likely take away the issue of isolation and inefficiencies to a brighter and positive outcome for the overall development of our sport ecosystem. 

Social Exchange Theory

The concept of the social exchange theory dates back 1958, from a published article “Social Behaviour as Exchange” by an American Sociologist George Homans, who developed a framework from a combination of behaviorism and basic economics (Tulane University, 2018). 

Social exchange theory is based on the concept that an interaction between two entities is built through a process of cost-benefit analysis (Tulane University, 2018), which is a measure designed to determine the efforts ushered in by one entity from their interaction. The theory plays out to measure the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of the interaction to determine if one entity out-performs the other and vice versa. 

The uniqueness of this theory adopts systematic processes that depends on statistics and logic to determine balance from an interaction of two or more entities. Even though there are some assumptions pertaining to this theory, this article is not within that scope, but the author attempts to align its concept as a participatory approach for effective operations for sport-based organisations.  In line with the concept of social exchange theory and the underlying focus of creating balance between entities may be ideal for effective practices among sport organisations.

Amalgamation of Ambidextrous Leadership and Social Exchange Theory

At the core of these participatory approaches are exploitation, exploration and balance creation. Thus, there is the need to exploit existing tactics, operations, and practices by identifying weaknesses, ‘cost’, delays, inefficiencies while at the same time exploring innovative ways for future practices. As sport organisations do this, there should be balance in their interactions, relationships and engagement so as to not overshadow other entities through their engagement for innovative and effective practices. But, again if through these interactions and engagements, there be the need to box an entity under another, and the outcome in the future may be beneficial, leadership should take risks considering the bigger outcome and performance of the joint-efforts than individual efforts that may cause delays, inefficiencies and isolation. 

In conclusion, a merger of ambidextrous leadership by sport-based organisations and social exchange theory may not only proffer better and proper engagement between stakeholders, but also present an efficient and effective participatory approach for sport development. 


Akıncı, G., Lutfihak A., Bora Y., & Gaye, K. (2022). "The Link between Ambidextrous Leadership and Innovative Work Behavior in a Military Organization: The Moderating Role of Climate for Innovation" Sustainability 14, no. 22: 15315. https://doi.org/10.3390/su142215315.

Finzi, B., Firth, V., & Lipton, M. (2018). Ambidextrous leadership: Keystone of the undisruptable CEO. Retrieved https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/insights/us/articles/4644_Ambidextrous-leadership/DI_Ambidextrous-leadership.pdf 

Tulane University. (2018, April 20). What is Social Exchange Theory? Retrieved https://socialwork.tulane.edu/blog/social-exchange-theory/ 

About the author

Frank Appiah Kusi is an Assistant Lecturer in Sport Management at the School of Sports and Exercise Medicine of University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana. Appiah Kusi is also a PhD Candidate at the Graduate School of Business and Management of Philippine Christian University, Manila, Philippines. His research focus on Sport Sponsorship and Marketing. 

LinkedIn: Frank Appiah Kusi
X: @KusiWonder
Facebook: Nana Kusi Oboadum


Assistant Lecturer in Sport Management
University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana


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