A narrative inquiry into the construction, composition and performance of coaching identities

PENDLE, Andrew Peter (2023). A narrative inquiry into the construction, composition and performance of coaching identities. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00518


This thesis inquires into how successful, independent coaches construct, compose and perform their professional identities. It focuses on the narratives employed and the performances given in pursuit of this. In reflecting on these performances it suggests an alternative discourse to that which is dominant in the coaching literature and on coach training programmes. Rather than “off-the-peg” coaching identities being arrived at through the prospective coach giving allegiance to specific, pre-existing coaching approaches, genres and markets, it suggests that in practice a more individualistic and idiosyncratic process occurs that proceeds from the multi-faceted personality and biographical history of the individual coach. It employs a constructivist, integrative methodology that blends a dialogical/performance approach to narrative research with a worlds-based approach to the critical evaluation of theatre performances. Eight established and successful coaches were interviewed, and accounts of these encounters have been written up and presented here in a case study format. In analysing the interviews a typology of three narratives were identified that existed across all the interviews. These were characterised as assumption, foundation and encounter narratives. The coaches’ performances appeared to function through aligning and making transparent a number of initially disparate and opaque realms or worlds. This research suggests that the capacity to construct substantive individualistic coach identities and give improvised and perspicacious performances is central to effective coaching and supersedes such elements as employing evidence-based approaches, drawing from lists of competencies, and co-modification of the self in order to meet market expectations. This study contributes to an alternative discourse of coaching that suggests there should be greater emphasis on personal development and identity working for aspiring coaches along with a move towards greater emphasis on relational depth, pluralistic practice and a developmental focus in their work with coachees. It concludes by suggesting that a culture of fragmentation and ambiguity within the terrain of coaching, sometimes characterized as the Wild West of coaching, has positive aspects that are beneficial to the character of coaching. Abstract

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Stokes, Paul
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Paul Stokes
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00518
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2023 15:53
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 14:02
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/32011

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