A discourse analysis of the disciplinary power of management coaching

Anne Ellerup Nielsen (ASB Research Centre for Corporate Communication, Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark)
Hanne Nørreklit (Department of Business Studies, Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark)

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Publication date: 2 October 2009



The purpose of this paper is to analyse the control assumptions embedded in some textbooks on management coaching with a view to uncovering the potentialities and constraints applying to the individual's self‐realisation project.


By means of a qualitative discourse analysis of selected works on management coaching, the paper examines the rhetorical articulation of the management coaching concept in terms of established discourses of managing and controlling the individual.


As a result of the findings, the paper categorises the management coaching literature into two types: employee and executive coaching, respectively. It demonstrates that employee coaching seems to involve action control and direct monitoring, while executive coaching involves control of the spirit as well as results/achievements, thereby generating tight constraints on the individual's self‐realisation project. It concludes that coaching can be a stronger disciplining technique than control by numbers.


The paper provides insight into how writing on management coaching may help to construct power structures and social relationships reflected in society. There have been other studies analysing, for example, how performance measurements produce power structures and social relationships, but to the best of one's knowledge none of these has focused on management coaching – nor have they drawn on discourse analysis, which allows one to discern the social orders of popular management practices.



Ellerup Nielsen, A. and Nørreklit, H. (2009), "A discourse analysis of the disciplinary power of management coaching", Society and Business Review, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 202-214. https://doi.org/10.1108/17465680910994209

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