PhD examines All Blacks' winning ways

Last updated 05:00 09/01/2013
 Taradale man Tom Johnson, 74, has just completed a PhD on  the culture of winning in the All Black
A GAME EFFORT: Taradale man Tom Johnson, 74, has just completed a PhD on the culture of winning in the All Blacks.

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A former rugby representative and septuagenarian has turned a passion for the national game into a PhD.

Tom Johnson, 74, who once played for Hawke's Bay, completed his doctoral thesis - A case study of the Winning Ethos and Organisational Culture of the All Blacks (1950-2010) - at Massey University last year.

In November he became a doctor of philosophy in management.

His 276-page thesis involved extensive interviews with captains and coaches of our most successful sports team, and investigated its organisational culture over three 20-year periods.

"It summarises the culture of New Zealand rugby over a 60-year period and looks at why it has been successful," he said.

The combination of a strong culture and an ability to adapt to change had been key to the team's success since its first game in 1903.

He said the 2004-11 coaching team of Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith formalised an existing ethos of team leadership and was a recognition that "the old leadership principles of 'one leader, one way of doing things' wasn't going to work".

Johnson was an All Black trialist and a leading loose forward at provincial level in the 1960s.

He chaired the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union in 1972 and was on the NZ Rugby Union Council from 1973-1986.

He said he had also found recent events within the national cricket team interesting.

"One thing is very evident and that's that there are leadership problems and that leadership group must bear responsibility for the dysfunctionality that has occurred, which is of course reflected in results.

"I've always followed New Zealand cricket but I've always thought following our national team was the surest way to cure constipation," he said.

With two masters degrees and a PhD, Mr Johnson said he would relish the opportunity to help a sporting or business organisation improve its culture.

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- The Dominion Post

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