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Conceptualizing coaching as an approach to management and organizational development

Abstract

Purpose – Recent debates within the literature and amongst practitioners of coaching have been focussed on defining the scope and practice of coaching as a form of organizational intervention that can facilitate organizational and individual change. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the debate about what coaching is by reviewing an emerging comparative conceptual framework of coaching as a form of practice for management and organizational development. Design/methodology/approach – The framework was developed through an exploratory study involving a focus group of practitioners in coaching and management. The overall approach to this study blends a conceptual consideration of the practice of coaching with the results gained from a focus group. The study uses cognitive mapping, thematic grouping and content analysis to seek to define the key characteristics of coaching in comparison to other forms of management practice. Findings – A framework of “meta-categories” of management practice are identified and the role and processes of coaching is compared in relation to these. Results from the study suggest that coaching adopts a holistic and that certain key characteristics can be identified that differentiate it from other forms of management and organizational development. Results also open the way for research into forms of coaching required to facilitate and support whole systems change. Originality/value – The framework could be of use to managers in assessing whether a coaching-based approach to promoting and managing change is appropriate and what processes it involves.
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