Blurred boundaries
: a qualitative investigation into the organisational culture of bullying and harassment in elite track and field athletes in Jalisco, Mexico

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The aim of this doctoral dissertation was to contribute to the understanding of the manifestations of bullying and harassment in Mexican sport by investigating the organisational culture of a public sport organisation in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. My objective was to analyse the stories and narratives through qualitative interviews of elite semi-professional and professional track and field athletes who trained and participated in this public sport organisation.

Based on the body of scholarship suggesting that the quality of a work environment reflects the values, norms,and beliefs of an organisation and that symbolic features and assumptions of a work environment turn into behavioural practices, I chose my conceptual framework. This framework is called organisational culture as developed by organisational psychologist Edgar Schein. I drew substantially from the discipline of organisational psychology, a sub-field of psychology that studies human behaviour at work, emphasising issues such as bullying and harassment in the workplace and sought to apply it to the context of sport.

I transcribed and interpreted 14 interviews, seven female track and field athletes and seven coaches (six male and one female) according to the principles of thematic analysis. I created four themes based on the patterns, accounts, and perceptions shared by participants, these were: Boundaries; Grooming and Transgression; Dome of Silence; and Safety Culture.

This investigation is unique compared to other work done in the topic because of two reasons: firstly, this investigation centres on a geographical area outside the Anglosphere from which most of studies of bullying and harassment in sport come from. Despite the widespread presence of bullying and harassment in various parts of the world and in different contexts, in sport, the research has been limited in Mexico and rest of Latin America. Therefore, I am addressing and giving voice to a new group of individuals.

Secondly, this investigation seeks to encourage the application of methodological and theoretical principles of organisational psychology to the field of sport. I do so by drawing from the literature on organisational cultures and its influence on individuals in organisations, considering the national context of Mexico, and how adherence to norms and behaviours of such culture can be associated with bullying and harassment in sport. Thus, theoretically, this investigation contributes to the body of scholarship that deals with organisational culture and issues of systematic abuse in organised contexts, bridging foundations from organisational and social psychology with sport research.

To the best of my knowledge,there have been no studies approaching bullying and harassment from a cultural and organisational perspective in semi-professional and professional sport in Mexico. This project aims to bridge this gap in knowledge through a qualitative empirical investigation.

Date of Award1 Feb 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorSilvia Camporesi (Supervisor) & Anne Pollock (Supervisor)

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