Rethinking Coaching – Critical Theory and the Economic Crisis

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 18 October 2011



du Toit, A. (2011), "Rethinking Coaching – Critical Theory and the Economic Crisis", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 19 No. 7.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Rethinking Coaching – Critical Theory and the Economic Crisis

Article Type: Suggested readings From: Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 19, Issue 7

Angélique du Toit and , Stuart Sim,Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, ISBN: 9780230240544

How might radical coaching have addressed the behavior of bankers that led to the credit crisis? What is there for coaching, as a specialism, to learn from the behavior of bankers? How might those who coach managers in large organizations rethink the way they do things to ensure that issues of corporate social responsibility are properly addressed?

If these are the sorts of question you would like a sound intellectual perspective on, Rethinking Coaching, by du Toit and Sim, will interest you. Unlike many books on coaching that are written by practitioners and that offer primarily techniques for coaches to use, this book is a closely argued intellectual essay – a book on thinking for coaches, rather than a book about coaching practice.

Part 1 argues that a more radical form of coaching in organizations will encourage a stronger sense of corporate social responsibility, and that the basis for this more radical form of coaching can be found in critical theories of society that have emerged from philosophers and cultural theorists.

Part 2 offers an overview of coaching theory. It also presents case studies showing where, in the authors’ experience, a coaching culture is well established. Most of the examples are from the public sector. The two private-sector case studies are from telephone companies.

Part 3 takes us through a history of relevant philosophical thought, with excursions into Marxism and post-Marxism, feminism and post-colonialism and finally to post-modernism, which seems to be the dominant theoretical framework for the ideas and language of this book.

Part 3 also explains skepticism and how it can be applied to public life. It ends with a section specifically on skeptical coaching. Any reader taking a skeptical stance on Rethinking Coaching will now have plenty to chew on, and perhaps be convinced that skepticism is the best approach.

Part 4 examines the way people fail to question the underpinning ideology of their professions and unthinkingly buy into the values and culture of their organizations. The authors explain how coaching is a good way of helping people to articulate a questioning approach to their organization.

The book provides coaches with a good theoretical framework to re-evaluate their practice, and to become a bit more challenging of the organizations they coach in. The argument is well presented, but there are gaps. There is a clear message to coaches to be more skeptical and questioning of the organizations whose staff they coach, but what the authors might want to do about introducing coaching into the financial sector is less clear. The potential benefits of coaching for bankers are clearly presented but there are no examples of where this may already be in place. There is no mention of coaching practice in the financial sector, but that does not mean that none exists. A discussion on how coaches might market themselves to the banks could have been helpful.

For a reader not familiar with the concepts of post-modernism, some of the chapters are a bit hard going. The arguments presented could have been expressed in simpler terms.

Reviewed by Pete Sayers, Shipley, UK.

A longer version of this review was originally published in Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 3, 2011.

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