Learning Effective Business Communication Through LeBron James’s Career

[We’re pleased to welcome author Alperen Manisaligil of Case Western Reserve University, who recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “Taking Your Talents to Business Communications: Analyzing Effective Communication Through LeBron James’s Career Moves,” co-authored by Diana Bilimoria. Below Manisaligil explains the inspiration for the research, and surprising conclusions. From Manisaligil:]

3408889046_b3188df44e_z.jpgI came to Cleveland in 2011 from Turkey to pursue my PhD in Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University, and I observed how sorry most of the Clevelanders were because LeBron James left the Cavs for the Miami Heat and how happy and hopeful most of Clevelanders (including myself) felt after LeBron’s return in the Summer of 2014. In the Fall of 2014, I was asked to prepare and teach a required undergraduate class that covered business communications and all functional areas of business (accounting, finance, human resources management, management information systems, marketing, and operations management). The first class was on August 26, 2014, the summer LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavs).

One of the first principles of effective business communication is to draw the attention of your audience at the beginning of the communication. I wanted to come up with an interesting activity so that I can demonstrate what I teach at the very start. I thought I could transform the communication of LeBron James and the Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert during LeBron’s career moves into an engaging in-class activity by using their publicly available videos and open letters. When I took the idea to one of my teaching mentors, Diana Bilimoria, she thought it was a brilliant idea and that I could even turn this activity into a publication (she later become the co-author of the article).

With the goal of publishing the activity for the benefit of other management educators, I prepared a case study and enriched the activity with media richness and channel expansion theories. I wanted to add academic depth to an event that everybody was talking about and take the conversation to a whole new level, focusing on what we all could learn from it. I designed and taught the activity for the first time, and it was well received by my students—I was even nominated for a university-wide as well as a school-wide teaching award at the end of the semester for teaching the course. Then, we wanted to see test potential modifications for this activity and Dr. Bilimoria used the activity in her elective graduate course on leadership, emphasizing LeBron’s growth as a leader most particularly.

What surprised me about the findings is that gender and nationality did not impact students’ learning from the activity, and students from different backgrounds were similarly engaged during the activity. Maybe we owed it to the fact that we taught the activity in a university in Cleveland, so I would be curious to learn management educators’ experiences using this activity in other geographical locations.

Media choices are increasing rapidly, adding new challenges for managers as they complete business communication tasks. I hope with the help of this activity, we can help practitioners make better-informed decisions in choosing the most appropriate medium to communicate and enrich their use of the chosen medium.

I and my co-author received excellent guidance from the action editor Jen Leigh, as well as two anonymous reviewers. I’m also thankful to Rachel Messina King, Phil Thompson, and Stacey Chung for their comments to earlier drafts.

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LeBron James photo attributed to: Keith Allison (CC)

This entry was posted in Business, Careers, Communication, Talent, Teams by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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