What Works in Executive Coaching

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Understanding outcomes through quantitative research and practice-based evidence

Erik de Haan
Routledge, 2021

This book reviews the full coaching outcome research literature to examine the
arguments and evidence behind the use of executive coaching. Erik de Haan presents
the definitive guide to what works in coaching and what changes coaching brings
about, both for individual coaches and for organisations and commissioners.

Accessibly written and based on contemporary quantitative research into coaching
effectiveness, this book considers whether we know that coaching works, and, if so,
whom it works for, and what it offers to those involved. What Works in Executive
Coaching considers the entire body of academic literature on quantitative research
in executive and workplace coaching, assessing the significant results and explaining
how to apply them. Each chapter contains direct applications to coaching practice
and clearly evaluates the evidence, defining what really works in executive coaching.

Alongside its companion volume Critical Moments in Executive Coaching, this
book is an essential guide to evidence-based effectiveness in coaching.
It will be a key text for all coaching practitioners, including those in training.


“This is a great contribution to the practice and science of coaching. I find the controversy issues raised at the opening of each chapter very useful and essential as they provide us with a more balanced perspective of the story that is being told in each chapter. I also greatly value the guidelines for both practitioners and researchers to better assess and interpret coaching research findings and ultimately become more informed consumers of coaching research. This book celebrates the exciting journey of discovery that workplace coaching scholars have achieved to date and on the same breath highlights areas that need to be further addressed.”
– Gil Bozer, Ph.D., Sr Lecturer of Coaching, Sapir Academic College, Israel

“This book will be an instant classic! It can advance coaching research in many ways. Not only does it provide a comprehensive review of the literature to date, it also reviews this literature in an open, critical, courageous, and creative way. The book goes beyond summarizing the results and pointing out directions for future research. It challenges your way of thinking about (executive) coaching, about what effectiveness means, about how we can and should measure it, and about how we should continue to build an evidence base for (executive) coaching. This book should be on the reading list for everyone who is professionally involved in coaching in any way.”
– Dr Tim Theeboom, Sr Lecturer at Center for Coaching, VU University, Amsterdam

“I found this book extremely interesting, very well written and actually a pleasure to read. I loved the vignettes at the beginning of each chapter: they fit very well. I also appreciated that every chapter starts with the controversies – as a way to acknowledge the issues even before the successes of coaching, which is rare compared to a lot of uncritical enthusiasm that coaching often elicits. All effect sizes are made comparable by transforming them into standard delta’s. At the end of the book there is an impeccable guide for good (ethical) research. Thank you for a very fine book that is rigorous, scholarly and solid but speaks to a very broad audience.”
– Silvia Dello Russo, Associate Professor, Toulouse Business School

“This is a wonderfully interesting book that helps clearing up lots of enquiries, rumours and controversy about coaching. Unlike many other practitioner books, you base your discussion on a solid and comprehensive review of prior research studies. More importantly, you provide a wider and more inclusive view about coaching that will benefit researchers and practitioners alike.”
- Dr Ray Hui, Assistant Professor, NUCB Business School, Nagoya University of Commerce and Business

“Thank you for the opportunity to read your new book which builds bridges and at the same time offers both interesting controversies and new impulses. I love the way you write: well understandable; reflective; tying all these loose ends in coaching research; and interesting for both practitioners and researchers. Only someone with rich practical and scientific experience could have written such a book! And what an impressive task to gather and analyze all those research articles. I particularly enjoyed and was challenged by your thoughts regarding the research on the working alliance. I realized I now may have to abandon well- known, comfortable, widely shared perspectives on the working alliance. I am not sure if I have already ‘bought in’ but your thoughts stimulate me to think again about the complex relational dynamics that take place between coaches and clients.”
– Professor Patrizia Ianiro-Dahm, University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg

“Navigating the field of coaching has always been a challenge. Twenty years ago, the salient questions were, What is it really? Who should I use? and Where’s the research? Two decades on, the emergence of a decent and growing evidence-base has created other navigational challenges, with stakeholders left to wonder, What sort of evidence is best? and What can be said to work? In this book vital navigational assistance is provided, by addressing these and many other questions. Importantly, I like that the book provides an eminently clear expression of the factors that contribute to quality in quantitative research in coaching, and overviews the intricacies of research in a way that is accessible and should increase the research literacy of readers. What I especially appreciated was the view that good quality coaching research is bloody hard to do; something that (I suspect) is not so well appreciated. Particularly the sort of research that is more valuable: designs that have some ecological validity to them and resemble what happens in the real world. So much of what you say is not just relevant for practitioners and the purchasers of coaching, but also for researchers, who can sometimes become blinkered in their work and benefit from helpful reminders.”
- Dr. Gordon Spence, Senior Lecturer, Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong

“This book presents the entire spectrum of empirical coaching research to date and depicts an almost complete status quo of coaching research.
The book is therefore suitable for researchers to identify the gaps that coaching research has not yet addressed and for practitioners of any school and any methodological background who either want to read up on the subject of effectiveness or are motivated to gain inspiration on how to enrich their coaching practice with evidence-based elements and ‘magic ingredients’ that help their clients the most.
I am convinced that this book will be a future standard reference for coaching researchers and practitioners interested in evidence-based coaching and, despite the title, definitely is not limited to executive coaching.”
- Dr Katharina Ebner, Sr Lecturer at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

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