Background for the Special Issue
Workplace coaching refers to tailored activities that are based on a collaborative, reflective, and goal-focused relationship between a professional coach (internal or external, but without formal supervisory authority over the coachees) and one or more coachees (people receiving coaching) to facilitate a range of positive work outcomes. Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of research on workplace coaching, which may be used for many reasons and in varied contexts, such as to support employees' or executives' learning and development as well as to promote health and well-being at work. Such growth, and as some argue maturation of the field, is evidenced by the increase in systematic reviews (e.g., Athanasopoulou & Dopson, 2018; Bozer & Jones, 2018; Graßmann & Schermuly, 2020; Müller & Kotte, 2020) and quantitative meta-analyses (e.g., Graßmann et al., 2020; Jones et al., 2016; Sonesh et al., 2015) as well as by the publication of research articles in established psychology and management journals (e.g., Bozer et al., 2021; Graßmann & Schermuly, 2021; Kotte et al., 2020).
Yet, scholars acknowledge that the field remains in need of rigorous theoretical grounding and research designs (e.g., Boyatzis et al., 2022; Bozer & Jones, 2021; De Haan et al., 2019; Kotte & Bozer, 2022). Although the above referenced summaries of research demonstrate overall effects on desired outcomes including work performance, it remains important to focus on deepening our understanding of how, why, for whom and when coaching works. Put simply, we need to turn our attention to the underlying mechanisms and processes as well as contextual factors that influence coaching examined through relevant theories and paradigms. There is also a practical imperative for gaining a more nuanced understanding of coaching as popularity statistics indicate that coaching is here to stay. During the pandemic coaching and 'self-help' services have sprung up in new and diverse forms, often digitally mediated and/or supported by artificial intelligence, to support professionals in dealing with the challenges associated with flexible and hybrid working environments as well as wider profound organizational changes. It is, therefore, essential to critically examine and problematize such diverse forms of workplace coaching to gain a greater understanding of this developmental activity in the new era of work.
In summary, we argue that coaching as a discipline and profession is now at a crossroad. Taking the path one way requires the continued leap of faith that coaching delivers on desired outcomes and remains a development activity of choice. Taking the path the other way requires more critical engagement with theoretical considerations as well as the boundary conditions of organizational context, mode of delivery as well as the actual intended purpose.
Objectives and Scope of the Special Issue
Our special issue seeks to address the following questions and challenges:
The influences on to what extent coaching 'works' (commonly termed effectiveness) can be categorized as inputs, processes, and contextual influences. Syntheses of the extant systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses (e.g., Kotte & Bozer, 2022) point to areas that have either not received enough research attention or have yielded inconsistent findings. For example, inputs such as coach characteristics are under-investigated. Process factors such as the relationships and power dynamics between coaching stakeholders (e.g., coach, coachee, client organization), and characteristics of the coaching intervention (e.g., duration, setting, modality) also deserve greater attention. Contextual factors require more nuanced conceptualization including the role of (cross-) cultural factors in coaching, the role of societal developments (e.g., pandemic, "new work") and the organizational context (e.g., organizational approach to coaching, embeddedness of coaching within the overall organizational human resource development policy). We posit that the multilevel nature of coaching needs to be taken into account more directly, both by exploring coaching outcomes at different levels and by building on emergent research on group and team coaching as growing learning and development practices in organizations (e.g., Jones et al., 2019; Widdowson et al., 2020; Zheng & Wang, 2021). Fundamentally, we need to better understand the intended beneficiaries of coaching and relevant specific coaching foci, such as health and wellness coaching for example for those returning to work or coaching for entrepreneurs.
What kind of submissions will fit the call?
We encourage contributions with a focus on theory-driven research from a broad range of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, communication and management studies and welcome qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods papers with rigorous designs and approaches. We are particularly interested in studies that capture the dynamic effects and longitudinal patterns of workplace coaching outcomes, the processes that occur during workplace coaching and contextual influences on workplace coaching. One major limitation of the current body of coaching research is the predominant use of cross-sectional self- report data. Contributions to our special issue will therefore also need to address this challenge. We will only consider studies conducted using cross-sectional self-report data in exceptional circumstances. For example, if the sample is exceptionally large, representative, or multi-national or based on experimental designs. In all other cases, cross-sectional self- report data should form part of a wider selection of data, including longitudinal data. For more details on the use of cross-sectional self-report data please see the JOOP December 2011 Editorial. Studies that use field samples of professional clients and coaches have higher priority than studies with student samples; any such studies need to document clear relevance to a work context. We will consider theoretical and/ or review papers if they make a substantial contribution to furthering our theoretical understanding.
Potential research questions include:
We will leave to submitting authors to formulate and propose more precise research questions about any of these aspects or indeed any additional urgent research questions relevant to advancing workplace coaching research and theory which challenge and expand the remit of our issue.
Please note that all submissions require practitioner points tailored to workplace coaching.
The guest editors will manage a two-step review and screening process. First, authors are required to submit an extended structured abstract (up to 800 words, excluding references). The abstract should include a context and rationale based in the current literature, a research question/ hypotheses, key findings and a contribution to research and practice. The deadline for abstract submissions is 15 January 2023. Please submit your abstract for this special issue by email to the journal inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org and mention the special issue "Workplace Coaching" in the subject line of the email. In the body of the email, please include names and institutional affiliations of all authors, indicate the corresponding author and provide an email address for the corresponding author. Abstracts will be selected based on the quality of submissions and authors will be informed of the preliminary editorial decision. Full manuscripts need to be submitted by August 31, 2023.
For enquiries related to this special issue, please contact any one of the guest editors:Silja Kotte (University of Applied Sciences Aschaffenburg; Silja.Kotte@th-ab.de), Gil Bozer (Sapir Academic College; email@example.com), Carolin Graßmann (Victoria International University of Applied Sciences; firstname.lastname@example.org) or Almuth McDowall (Birkbeck, University of London; email@example.com) and copy the other editors into your communication for transparency.