Is empirical research of organisations possible?
Conclusions from the study of critical moments in coaching conversations.
by: Erik de Haan
in:
Personnel Review. Submitted.


In this study a large dataset with descriptions of critical moments in real-life coaching conversations, as experienced by both executive coaches and their clients, has been re-analysed to explore if empirical research of organisations can in principle be based on such data. The dataset consisted of 102 descriptions of critical moments by clients, 80 descriptions by inexperienced executive coaches (consultants with less than a year of coaching experience) and 170 descriptions by experienced executive coaches (over 8 years of experience).

About two thirds of the dataset was collected in written form, and the other third through interviews. Eighty-six descriptions were collected straight after real coaching conversations, from both clients and coaches. All descriptions were analysed by several researchers with the help of a set of 12 codes that came out of a process of grounded research. Patterns in the coding were clearly different in the various datasets, and could be explained by differences between coach and client perspectives, and by differences between ‘run of the mill’ coaching and more extreme occurrences. Both hypotheses involving relativistic assumptions about the conversations could be disproved. Overall the dataset seems to obey general, lawful and objective rules.