Conceptualising and Measuring Fan Identity Using Stakeholder Theory

Rui Biscaia, David P. Hedlund, Geoff Dickson and Michael Naylor


Research question: Building on identity theory and stakeholder theory, this study explores the concept of fan identity based on self-perceived levels of power, urgency, internal and external legitimacy, and examines their effects on behavioural intentions. Research methods: Data were collected from professional football fans (n = 532). A confirmatory factor analysis analysed the psychometric properties of the constructs, and a subsequent structural equation model examined the effects of fan identity on three behavioural intention measures. Results and findings: The results indicate acceptable psychometric properties of the multidimensional construct of fan identity composed of power, urgency, internal legitimacy and external legitimacy. Power and internal legitimacy were significantly related to the intentions to attend more games and to purchase merchandise, with internal legitimacy also influencing intentions to recommend games to others. Implications: This study provides the first exploration of fan identity as a multidimensional construct. The findings provide sport managers with useful insights on how to measure fan identity. This study serves as a catalyst for future research to understand the linkages between professional sport teams and their fans.

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