An Evaluation of Coaching from a Psychological Perspective

  • Joanne O'Dell

Student thesis: Phd


The University of Manchester ABSTRACT of thesis submitted by Joanne O'Dell Doctor of Philosophy 2011An Evaluation of Coaching Effectiveness from a Psychological PerspectiveIn spite of the increasing popularity of coaching, little is known about what contributes to an effective coaching experience, particularly from a psychological perspective (Kilburg, 2001; Grant, 2001; Bluckert, 2005; Bowles and Picano, 2007). This study presents a longitudinal, case study of a coaching programme conducted in a large government agency, over a twelve month period. The study adopts the coachee perspective, commenting also on the role of the coach. Longitudinal studies using a mixed methodological approach are rare within coaching research (Feldman and Lankau, 2005). The principal aim of the study is to explore coaching effectiveness from a psychological perspective. Three key areas of research are explored: meta-cognition, interpersonal communication style and attitude. These are areas which have been highlighted as being important for coaching success (Grant, 2001; London and Smither, 2002; Bush, 2004; Feldman and Lankau, 2005; Kappenberg, 2008). The three coaching outcome measures used include; job performance, organisational commitment and organisational citizenship behaviour, which are thought to be useful indicators of organisational success (Meyer et al, 2002; Smith et al, 2003; Maharaji and Schlechter, 2007; Sarantinos, 2007; Van Vuuren, de Jong, Seydel, 2007). The key findings of this study provide some important evidence about those factors which influence coaching effectiveness. This empirical evidence enhances our understanding about how effects occur; identifying those groups of individuals more likely to be influenced by coaching. As anticipated results show that coaching has a positive impact on two of the meta-cognitive skills explored: self-efficacy and self-esteem (Bandura, 1997; Audia, Locke and Smith, 2000; Bouffard-Bouchard, 2001). However, findings also reveal two unexpected outcomes for meta-cognition: an increase in external locus of control, and a decrease in private self-consciousness behaviour. Additionally, results also show that interpersonal communication style and attitude of the coachee are important within the coaching relationship, and that the interpersonal communication style of the coach plays an important role in influencing coaching outcomes. The evidence provided by this study makes a recommendation for pre-coaching assessments of meta-cognitive skills, interpersonal communication and attitude of the coachee and also the interpersonal communication skills of the coach. This type of assessment provides a useful indicator of those areas which are likely to make a difference to coaching effectiveness as highlighted within this study.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorSandra Fielden (Supervisor) & David Holman (Supervisor)


  • Coaching Effectiveness
  • Coaching Psychology
  • Coaching Evaluation

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