An investigation of the three-way joint coaching alliance: a social identity theory perspective

Yi-Ling Lai, Helen Smith

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    This study builds upon the previous research that recognised coaching as a triangular political space generating power relationships. We integrate social identity theory into this power negotiation process and consider that the ultimate purpose of coaching is to facilitate a shared coaching identity among all related collaborators. To gain in-depth understanding of factors that promote a three-way joint coaching identity; we conducted 25 critical incident interviews and two levels of Q-sorting (n = 10) with coaches, coachees and organisational stakeholders. The research results indicated that a workplace coaching identity is a flexible space underpinned by coaches’ attitude, all collaborators’ positions and the contracting process. Coaches’ accommodated communication techniques determine the relationship climate (instrumental or influential). Coaches’ position in the coaching space regulates their self-interests and motivation to change. Moreover, a transparent contracting process encourages communication flows and psychological exchanges among all collaborators that may gain more support from stakeholders.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalApplied Psychology: An International Review
    Early online date31 Oct 2019
    Publication statusEarly online - 31 Oct 2019


    • coaching relationship
    • coaching alliance
    • social identity theory
    • workplace coaching


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