The Why and How of Professionalism: Coaching as an Emerging Occupation
Work and Organisational Studies University of Sydney Neutral Bay NSW, Australia
The perspectives and approaches to understanding professions have changed over the last forty years, yet comparatively little has been written about emerging occupations. This paper draws on professionalisation literature, semi-structured in-depth interviews as well as conferences and websites to examine why and how an emerging occupation, such as coaching, is attempting to professionalise.
Since the 1980s the development of coaching as a relatively new occupation has emerged and is now trying to become ?professionalised?. Coaching, and in particular executive coaching, has become one of the fastest growing sectors in the western world. It has been estimated by PricewaterhouseCoopers that they are 30,000 coaches worldwide generating an income of $1.5 billion. Yet coaches, and coach associations, have different, and often conflicting, views on what constitutes coaching and the necessary qualifications and educational experience to practice as a coach.
These conflicts have resulted in the creation of a number of member based groups, such as The Coaching Commons, International Coach Federation and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. In an effort to understand and address these differences a number of these member bodies and coach training organisations, including universities, have formed global coaching conventions such as the 2008 Global Convention on Coaching. The arguments for holding these global conventions are complex, with many reasons being put forward by the conflicting member groups. What is unclear is whether these reasons are to; establish trust, boundary work, maintain respectability, distinguish their work from others, establish control, banish governmental control by establishing a free market or expert work, or a combination of these.
The important issue is why and how these organisations are attempting to professionalise the coaching industry. It is the ?why? and ?how? that needs to be answered. This paper addresses these two questions.