Home Concepts Best Practices Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

Coaching in Organizations: A Status Report (Past, Present and Future)

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Should Rachel be working with the seemingly ambivalent president of Sam’s hospital rather working directly with Sam? Perhaps Rachel should be working with the hospital’s Board of Directors and should encourage the board to come to a clear decision regarding the priorities to be assigned to not only profit and quality, but also welfare of the hospital’s employees. This could place Rachel in the role of advocate and it could expose Rachel’s social-political biases. Is this really appropriate for an organizational (or personal) coach? Several decades ago, Warner Burke made a strong case that the field of organization development was not neutral, but was very much a “normative” field of human service, with definite and highly influential values regarding collaboration, openness and related matters. This normative foundation can, in turn, be traced back to the writings (and active engagement in society) of that titan of American pragmatism and liberalism, Sam Dewey, and to the highly influential work of a European immigrant and social psychologist, Kurt Lewin. In more recent years, these values can be found deeply embedded in organization development theory and practice. They can be found fully enacted in the engagement during the 1950s and 1960s of people throughout North America in sensitivity training (T-Groups) and related team and community-building activities. The roots of organization development can also be found in the soil of social activism and, more specifically, in the struggles against racial, religious and gender biases that began in the 1930s and remained prominent in the civil rights and women’s rights movements of the late 20th Century.

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