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Purpose This work presents an analysis of the results of applying executive coaching as a management competency training and development strategy, setting up a comparison with other known training and development methods. Design/methodology/approach A dual sample is used. On the one hand, information is collected from a sample of 100 managers who participated as coachees in an executive coaching process. On the other, the study provides the opinions of 236 HR managers, as prescribers and promoters of company executive training and development actions. Findings The results suggest that executive coaching is an effective management training and development method. Furthermore, it is confirmed to be more effective than the rest of the techniques analyzed in relation with sustained and observable management behaviour changes, whilst also providing advantages and drawbacks in its use. Practical implications Coaching seems to provide the most effective method for altering a selected number of concrete managerial behaviours, although its cost, length, and specificity limit its capacity to be used exclusively as a tool for continuous and generalized management training. Originality/value In addition to incorporating two different samples and points of view within the analysis, this work contributes evidence regarding behaviours addressed in executive coaching processes -a feature that has received little analysis in the academic literature- and breaks new ground by comparing the results of this method with other management training and development methods in terms of their degree of effectiveness in attaining observable and lasting behaviour changes.
Management Decision
Is executive coaching more effective than other management training and
development methods?
Izaskun Rekalde, Jon Landeta, Eneka Albizu, Pilar Fernandez-Ferrin,
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Izaskun Rekalde, Jon Landeta, Eneka Albizu, Pilar Fernandez-Ferrin, (2017) "Is executive coaching
more effective than other management training and development methods?", Management Decision,
Vol. 55 Issue: 10, pp.2149-2162, https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-10-2016-0688
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Is executive coaching
more effective than other
management training and
development methods?
Izaskun Rekalde, Jon Landeta, Eneka Albizu and
Pilar Fernandez-Ferrin
University of the Basque Country, Leioa, Spain
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present an analysis of the results of applying executive coaching
(EC) as a management competency training and development strategy, setting up a comparison with other
known training and development methods.
Design/methodology/approach A dual sample is used. On the one hand, information is collected from a
sample of 100 managers who participated as coachees in an EC process. On the other hand, the study provides
the opinions of 236 HR managers as prescribers and promoters of company executive training and
development actions.
Findings The results suggest that EC is an effective management training and development method (MTDM).
Furthermore, it is confirmed to be more effective than the rest of the techniques analysed in relation with sustained
and observable management behaviour changes, whilst also providing advantages and drawbacks in its use.
Practical implications Coaching seems to provide the most effective method for altering a selected
number of concrete managerial behaviours, although its cost, length, and specificity limit its capacity to be
used exclusively as a tool for continuous and generalised management training.
Originality/value In addition to incorporating two different samples and points of view within the
analysis, this work contributes evidence regarding behaviours addressed in EC processes a feature that has
received little analysis in the academic literature and breaks new ground by comparing the results of this
method with other MTDMs in terms of their degree of effectiveness in attaining observable and lasting
behaviour changes.
Keywords Mentoring, Management development, Coaching, Training methods, Continuing development,
Executive training
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Both the firms and the executives themselves are aware of the importance of training for
performing managerial tasks. They generally accept that there is a positive relationship
between executivesskills intensity and their contribution to the firms success. They are
aware of the need for continuous management training as a means of permanent
development, especially within the framework of a highly dynamic competitive environment
(Castanias and Helfat, 2001; Pickett, 1998).
Nonetheless, firms are still doubtful as to the benefits of the different management
training and development methods (MTDMs), due to a lack of knowledge of their specific
effects on their executivesdevelopment and on company results. In this context, Saks et al.
(2011, p. 181) frame the question, But is management training and development effective?
Management Decision
Vol. 55 No. 10, 2017
pp. 2149-2162
© Emerald Publishing Limited
0025-1747
DOI 10.1108/MD-10-2016-0688
Received 6 October 2016
Revised 7 December 2016
14 June 2017
Accepted 27 July 2017
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/0025-1747.htm
The authors wish to express thanks to the certifying associations (AECOP, ICF ), coaching consultancy
companies (EEC, Vesper, Newfield), firms and business associations (BBVA, MCC, Adegi, Tekniker)
and to all the professionals who collaborated in the development of this research. Likewise, the authors
gratitude goes to the University of the Basque Country and to FESIDE for contributing to the funding
of this research project.
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The managerial training market is opaque and contains strong information asymmetries
between suppliers and demanders. It is therefore hard for firms to appraise the quality and
utility of different training techniques and providers. At the same time, despite the great
popularity of the different practices for developing executive competencies and the need to
utilise them, in general, little research has been carried out on their use and effectiveness
(Phillips and Phillips, 2001; Suutari and Viitala, 2008), and the results of the available research
are somewhat discouraging, ranging from a marked asymmetry between programs
(Collins and Holton, 2004) to results that have proved less effective than presumed (Powell and
Yalcin, 2010), to moderately effective results (Burke and Day, 1986). These limitations
can lead to problems of adverse selection that restrict the training investment to be made
(Landeta et al.,2009;Barrutiaet al., 2014).
This low level of satisfaction with the instruments employed in management training
and development in organisations (Luthans, 2002) also appears to explain the constant
emergence of new practices and fashions in executive training. One of the most important
practices to emerge in recent years is executive coaching (EC), which offers an apparently
more attractive alternative to classic executive training tools (Kilburg, 1996; Feldman and
Lankau, 2005; Joo, 2005; Ely et al., 2010; Cameron and Ebrahimi, 2014; Page and de
Haan, 2014; de Haan et al., 2016; Grover and Furnham, 2016).
EC is an MTDM that seeks to match managerial competencies with the requirements
and context of an organisation. The coach has a commitment, in a collaborative
partnership with the executive, to establish and clarify the purpose and objectives and
develop an action plan designed to satisfy them. Through regular meetings, the coach
accompanies the executive in a process designed to modify particular behaviours at work
(Passmore, 2007; Lewis-Duarte and Bligh, 2012). Behavioural changes achieved through
such practices tend not to be massive, but occasional, and focus on specific kinds of
conduct. This means that each form of behaviour needs to be worked on individually
before different types of conduct are integrated within the overall behaviour.
Many scholars identify this individually tailored nature of EC as one of the main
reasons for its success (Witherspoon and White, 1996). One characteristic feature of
coaching is that its central component is behavioural practice. Thus, through this kind of
totally personalised intervention, where privacy, a non-judgemental perspective, and
session confidentiality offer the coachee a safe environment ( Jones et al.,2016),the
executive is encouraged to develop new approaches and conducts and assess them, in
order to improve efficiency through constructive feedback.
The greatest added value of coaching seems, therefore, to be the increased probability of
learning being transferred to the professional field (Bartlett, 2007; Knight, 2009; Bright and
Crockett, 2012), given its strong orientation towards customised transmission of
behavioural knowledge and towards the evaluation and reinforcement of the progress
made by the executive.
Despite the great acceptance of coaching in the professional field as a human resources
development practice (Liu and Batt, 2010; Page and de Haan, 2014) and its success and
popularity as an MTDM, its effectiveness is hard to evaluate and there are no conclusive
results on the matter. Studies conducted to measure EC results are limited by the
methodology adopted, either because they exclusively rely on self-reporting for assessing
the effectiveness of the instrument (Feldman and Lankau, 2005; Grover and Furnham, 2016)
or because the sample sizes used are generally small (Gyllensten and Palmer, 2005;
Grant et al., 2009; de Haan et al., 2016). Some studies have also expressed a degree of
scepticism as to its effectiveness, calling into question the return on the investment made in
establishing the practice (Fillery-Travis and Lane, 2006). Finally, although recent works
comparing different training techniques (Suutari and Viitala, 2008; Martin et al., 2014) were
analysed, there are no studies considering EC and comparing it to other MTDs.
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This work helps bridge the gap in the assessment of the results of different MTDs,
particularly EC practices. It first assesses behavioural changes resulting from a coaching
process. Second, it compares the results of EC with those of other techniques usually
employed to achieve behavioural change, offering a dual assessment by executives who
have participated in an EC process and by HR managers, usually responsible for choosing,
implementing and assessing MTD activities. Third, it identifies the main advantages and
drawbacks of EC as an MTDM.
The results of this research will therefore provide heads of firms with information that
will allow them to assess the suitability of applying EC in their organisations, based on their
objectives and suggest some outcomes they might hope to obtain from other alternative
techniques. This should help them to better select actions geared towards securing the
management competencies their organisation requires.
The document reviews the literature on management competencies and their alignment
with the firmsneeds. It also considers the effectiveness and limitations of the training practices
commonly to bring about behaviour change in executives. This is followed by an explanation
of the methodology used in the empirical study, and a discussion of the results. The paper
concludes with a series of conclusions and implications for human resource management.
2. Conceptual framework
2.1 Alignment of management competencies with organisational needs
For an organisation to be successful in achieving its mission, the individual and collective
competencies of its staff must be aligned with the strategic company management proposal
(Cardy and Selvarajan, 2006). For this reason, it must be developed taking the needs of the firm
and its component individuals as its reference point. This is especially important in the case of
managerial resources, owing to their strategic nature and potential for influencing the
organisations long-term results (Seibert et al., 1995; Graham and Tarbell, 2006).
Management competency is the set of knowledge, capacities, or abilities manifested in
observable (and usual) behaviours directly associated with the technical excellence of
executives in the exercise of their job (Spencer and Spencer, 1993; Boyatzis, 2008). Developing
executivescompetencies therefore involves improving a wide range of behavioural, cognitive,
and social knowledge and capacities (manifested in observable behaviours) through different
training systems and initiatives (Day and Halpin, 2004).
Fitts (1964), Huber (1991), and Anderson (1995) identify three sequential stages in the
learning process: a first, cognitive stage, in which learning is based on the acquisition of
knowledge of competencies (declarative knowledge); a second, associative stage, related to
application of this knowledge (procedural or behavioural knowledge); and a third,
autonomous stage, in which procedural knowledge is applied automatically, and where a
point is sometimes reached at which declarative knowledge is gradually lost.
Organisations must therefore align their executivescompetencies with their strategic
needs. To do so, they have to act upon these individualsprocedural knowledge, in order to
change their behaviours permanently (see Figure 1).
From a behaviourist perspective of management development, therefore, once the
management competencies aligned with the companys strategic proposal have been
identified, organisations will seek to modify their executivesbehaviour and steer it towards
the desired behaviour in line with the target competency. For this purpose, executives may
have to adapt their previous levels of both declarative and, above all, behavioural
knowledge, with support from MTDMs (Figure 1).
Seibert et al. (1995) hold that competency development requires action-directed training,
in the sense that it must be connected to work situations if the competency is to take
on a genuine overall significance. Accordingly, in competency-based training processes,
the learning processes to be encouraged should be geared towards action by the participant,
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taking as its reference the organisational framework within which the work situation is a
learning situation.
Nonetheless, training practices whose activities are oriented exclusively towards
transmitting declarative knowledge, aimed at impacting the individuals cognitive capacity,
continue to be the norm (Greiner et al., 2003). This type of training has been widely criticised,
principally where transversal competences are involved, since it fails to put the knowledge
and thus the connection between learning and associated behaviour change into practice
(Mintzberg and Gosling, 2002; Pfeffer and Fong, 2002). Companies therefore need training
practices, or a combination of practices that simultaneously affect individualscognitive and
behavioural capacities.
2.2 MTDMs
A great number of techniques exist for the application in managerial training and development.
One classic criterion used to classify this set of methods is to differentiate between planned
development techniques, following a programme conducted by the organisation and/or
executive to obtain the competencies required; and unplanned development techniques,
normally run outside working hours, on a casual non-programmed basis (Mumford, 1997).
Another common criterion for categorisation is to distinguish between on-the-job and
off-the-job methods (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998), depending on whether training mainly
takes place in-house or outside the firm. Generally, on-the-job methods form the part of
programs organised by the organisation itself and tend to adapt better to the specific needs of
executives and the firm, whereas off-the-job methods require the participation of outside agents,
who are usually specialized in training practice, but less so in satisfying the actual needs of the
organisation (Neary and OGrady, 2000).
This aspect of training customization is also the key when it comes to distinguishing
between formalized training techniques which bundle the knowledge that is to be
transmitted within courses that are appropriate for a whole group of potential clients or
pupils (internal or external courses, of different formats and lengths) and individualised
management development practices or activities which, while they may be planned in line
with their objectives, are relatively free in their development (mentoring, coaching, job
rotation, etc.) (Yukl, 2002). Following the management development approach outlined in the
previous section, Table I offers a summary of the characteristics of a selection of the planned
training practices most commonly used in organisations today.
The
manager
knows what
s/he ought
to know
The
manager
knows how
to do what
s/he ought
to do
What the
manager
knows
about the
target
competency
What the
manager
knows how
to do
MTDM
Declarative
knowledge
Behavioural
knowledge
The
manager
does what
s/he ought
to do
What the
manager
does
Strategic
company
proposal
MTDM
Modified
behaviour
Comunication,
motivation,
engagement
Source: Own work adapted from Fitts (1964) and Anderson (1995)
Figure 1.
The process of
declarative and
behavioural
knowledge alignment
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Method Definition Classification Advantages Limitations References
Executive
coaching
(EC)
Based on a regular
meeting between an
executive and a coach
The coach
accompanies the
executive in a process
designed to modify
particular forms of
behaviour at work,
establishing and
clarifying the purpose
and objectives and
developing an action
plan designed to fulfil
these through
constructive feedback
On-the-job,
mainly
Individualised
Behavioural
knowledge
High cost
Highly
personalised
Allows lessons
learned to be put
into practise
Active attention
Focusses on only a
few forms of
behaviour
Passmore,
2007
Lewis-Duarte
and Bligh
(2012), Bright
and Crockett
(2012), Jones
et al. (2016)
Attendance-
based
training
courses
(TC)
Approach designed for
subjects to receive, the
declarative knowledge
they need, usually
passively, helping to
generate reflections,
attitudes, and
innovative behaviour
to develop the
competencies targeted
by the courses
Off-the-job,
mainly
Formal
Declarative
Knowledge
Moderate cost
Easy control of
contents
Flexible format in
terms of content,
duration, etc.
Not tailored to
individual needs
Passive attention
Difficult to
translate to
executive practise
No post-course
follow-up
Bowles and
Picano (2006),
Knight (2009),
Suutari and
Viitala (2008)
E-learning
courses
(ELC)
Online training
courses. Can also
be partially
classroom-based
(blended learning)
Off-the-job,
mainly
Formal
Declarative
Knowledge
Low cost
Freedom and speed
of access,
flexibility,
overcomes barriers
of time and space
Capacity to update
contents
continually
Less effective in
the development
of generic abilities
Little or no
interaction
Scant motivation
offered
Gascó et al.
(2004),
Suutari and
Viitala (2008),
Rungtusanatham et al.
(2004)
Job rotation
( JR)
A development
activity that promotes
a kind of basically
experiential learning,
where managers
gradually acquire
different knowledge,
abilities, and skills as
they perform tasks
and responsibilities
corresponding to each
of the jobs they
engage with
On-the-job
Individualised
Behavioural
and
declarative
knowledge
Low explicit
cost, high
implicit cost
Learning
experiences of
theoretical and
practical
knowledge,
Capacity to see
problems from
different
perspectives
Respect for other
functions
Appreciation of
the need for
collaboration
Possible lack of
alignment between
learning and needs
Possible drop in
productivity level
owing to the
effects of the
learning curve
Possible negative
employee
perceptions, poor
person-work
assignation, and
general
inequalities in the
workplace
Suutari and
Viitala (2008),
Casad (2012),
Campion et al.
(1994),
Dragoni et al.
(2009)
(continued )
Table I.
Management training
and development
methods
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3. Methodology
To meet the objectives of this study, information was obtained from two independent
samples: the first made up of executive coachees and the second of HR managers from Spanish
firms. These were examined separately or together, depending on the specific aim pursued.
The first subsample comprises 100 Spanish executives (n¼100) who had taken part in at
least one EC process with a certified coach. Their responses refer to the most recent EC process
in which they had been involved (in cases where they had participated in more than one).
The executives had an average age of 41.0, and 34.4 per cent were women. Access was
provided through two certifying associations and four coaching consultancy companies,
as well as various firms and business associations promoting training initiatives through EC.
Data were collected via an online questionnaire. The website for collecting the online responses
was active between January and June 2014. The executive coachees were asked for information
on the characteristics of the coaching process, the different degrees of behaviour change
experienced, and their perception of the capacity of the different training techniques presented
in the questionnaire to change managerial behaviour.
The second subsample consisted of 236 HR managers (n¼236), selected at random from
the population of all firms registered in the SABI (Iberian Balance Sheets Analysis System)
database with registered offices in Spain, employing 200 or more workers a total of 3,990
firms. The information was gathered via telephone surveys, in January and February 2014.
The HR managers were asked to answer the same questions as the executive coachees
assessing the effectiveness of coaching in bringing about behaviour change, as well as
questions assessing the other managerial training techniques selected. In this case, however,
Method Definition Classification Advantages Limitations References
Outdoor
training
(OT)
Technique or
programme frequently
applied in executive
competency
development, which
uses nature as a
classroom and
experimental learning
as a method
Off-the-job,
mainly
Formal
Behavioural
Knowledge
High cost
Very practical
Generally
entertaining,
training and
recreational
activity
Poorly adapted to
individual needs
Learning and
transfer to the
workplace
disputed
Tuson (1994),
Goldenberg
(2001), Jones
and Oswick
(2007), Burke
and Collins
(2001)
Mentoring
(M)
Method that is
grounded on a system
of tutoring or support,
where a more senior
executive, generally
working as a
volunteer for no
monetary gain, guides
and orients an
employee or manager
with whom s/he is not
associated in the chain
of command and who
is professionally less
experienced, to allow
the mentee to achieve
professional maturity
and develop a set of
specific competencies
On-the-job
Individualised
Behavioural
and
declarative
knowledge
Low explicit
cost
Helps mentees to
secure
improvements in
their professional
career and personal
life and helps
mentors to obtain
improvements in
their own
promotion,
reputation,
personal
satisfaction, and
knowledge
Transmission of
knowledge on the
rules and values of
the profession
and/or organisation
Need for trained
and motivated
mentors
Under the control
of the training
transmitted by the
mentor (risk)
Need to guarantee
confidentiality and
harmony between
mentee and
mentor
Kram (1985),
Scandura
(1992), Allen
et al. (2004),
Eby et al.
(2008), Sketch
et al. (2001)
Table I.
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they were asked to reply on the basis of their accumulated knowledge and experience in
executive resource management and development. Additionally, as prescribers and promoters
of MTD actions, they were also asked, by way of an open question, to say what they considered
to be the main advantages and drawbacks of EC as compared to other techniques.
The scale used to measure the behaviour change variable was adapted from measurements
proposed by Ely and Zaccaro (2011). This consists of eight indicators assessing: whether there
has been any modification in the coachees behaviour; whether this change has been sustained
over time and whether it is perceived by other people in the organisation (superiors, colleagues,
and subordinates); also whether there is a better performance of managerial tasks, a better fit
with company needs, and a greater acceptance by the coachee of the changes. All items were
evaluated using a seven-point Likert scale, where 1 represents a very low degree of agreement
with the assertion of change, and 7 a very high degree of agreement. Reliability analyses
indicate that this scale has a very high level of internal consistency (Cronbachsα¼0.937).
To make a comparative assessment of the effectiveness of the different training
techniques, the informants (executive coachees and HR managers) were asked to score the
following management development practices from 1 to 7 for their contribution to regular
observable change in the executives behaviour: coaching, long external courses (MBAs, etc.),
short external courses, in-house courses, day schools/seminars/conferences, job rotation as
part of a management development plan, e-learning, outdoor training, and mentoring.
The questionnaire was initially reviewed by various academics and later, in a focus group,
by a group of 13 professional coaching experts (HR managers, coaches, and coachees) in the
Autumn of 2013, guaranteeing content validity. The final questionnaire pre-test was drawn up
with this group of experts.
4. Results and discussion
4.1 Behaviour change resulting from a coaching process
The first question is whether there is a change in behaviour as a result of being involved in a
coaching process. The results of this study suggest that EC has a strong capacity to modify
executive behaviour. In a joint evaluation by executive coachees and HR managers, the eight
dimensions related to behaviour change scored an average of 5.14 out of 7.
The average score for the coachee subsample was higher than that for HR managers
(5.36 compared to 4.93). The score was also higher for seven of the eight indicators measured,
although the difference is significant in only five, appearing to reflect the existence of a certain
optimistic bias in the coacheesjudgements (see Table II).
These results are therefore in line with others supporting the idea that EC contributes
effectively to sustained behaviour change (Wasylyshyn, 2003) and that changes brought
about in the coachee after the intervention are perceived by their collaborators.
Coachees HR managers Total
Variables (measurements of behaviour change) nAverage nAverage nAverage
Brown-
Forsythe
Modification of observable behaviours 99 5.495 125 4.896 224 5.161 17.068***
The changes are sustained over time 98 5.561 124 4.581 222 5.013 38.625***
The changes are perceived by subordinates 95 5.221 125 4.936 220 5.059 2.744
The changes are perceived by peers 92 5.098 125 4.880 217 4.972 1.420
The changes are perceived by managers 86 4.919 125 4.968 211 4.948 0.057
Improvement in performance of managerial tasks 97 5.464 122 5.074 219 5.247 5.880*
Behaviours more in line with company needs 95 5.474 125 5.056 220 5.236 6.172*
Greater capacity for adaptation to changes 98 5.612 124 5.064 222 5.306 10.994**
Notes: Differences significant are for: *po0.05; **po0.01; ***po0.001
Table II.
Assessment of
coachees and HR
managers concerning
behaviour changes
derived from an
EC process
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4.2 Comparison of the effectiveness of different MTDMs for managerial behaviour changes
The second issue was whether EC is more effective than other MTDMs commonly
employed. The first conclusion that may be drawn from Table III is that, in the opinion of
the individuals who make up this sample, EC is the MTDM that contributes most to
sustained observable behaviour change in executives.
The results also suggest a difference between the relative preferences of executive
coachees and HR managers, with the score given by the two groups significantly different
for all techniques except outdoor training (see Table III). Indeed, when compared to HR
managers, executive coachees opt more for individualised MTDMs (coaching, job rotation,
and mentoring), which are more flexible and more likely to match their personal and
contextual needs, and which more specifically address behavioural knowledge.
Human resource managers, in contrast, show a greater inclination than executive
coachees for formalized techniques (courses in different areas, day schools, seminars,
conferences, and e-learning) focussing more on the transfer of declarative knowledge and
offering a design that fits better with the organisations needs, budget, planning
possibilities, and capacity to control results.
In order to ascertain whether the assessment of EC by all informants is significantly
higher than that for all other MTDMs, a paired samples t-test was then conducted, this time
grouping the two subsamples (coachees and HR managers) together. EC shows positive and
significant differences ( po0.001) when compared to all other techniques, and is, overall, the
technique deemed to be most effective for bringing about behaviour changes.
Techniques targeting acquisition of behavioural knowledge with a more personalised
relation with the trainee (coaching, mentoring, job rotation, etc.) scored higher than those
concentrating on transmission of declarative knowledge; this is consistent with an increasing
trend in the literature to stress the need to use techniques that are oriented towards action and
experiential management development (Seibert et al., 1995; Mintzberg and Gosling, 2002;
Pfeffer and Fong, 2002; Greiner et al., 2003; Suutari and Viitala, 2008). In addition to these two
features (experientiality and orientation towards action), Webster-Wright (2009) notes that in
the area of professional development, training should be continuous, social, and relevant to
practice, all aspects that these techniques usually tend to fulfil.
Thus, in line with the findings by Davis (2014), classic on-site training structured around
courses with different formats does not appear to be the most effective way of projecting
MTD. This does not mean that it is not relevant or appropriate for the transfer of declarative
knowledge, but that it must necessarily be complemented by an opportunity to put the
knowledge acquired into practice in a real setting, where real business issues can
be resolved. In this regard, the lowest-rated techniques are those that involve more passive
pupil behaviour: online training, where the knowledge transmitted is basically technical and
Coachees HR managers Total
MTDMs nAverage nAverage nAverage Brown-Forsythe
Coaching (EC) 99 5.909 129 5.178 228 5.496 24.346***
Long external training courses (LETC) 76 4.816 151 5.278 227 5.123 7.648**
Short external training courses (SETC) 92 4.315 218 4.706 310 4.590 5.513*
Internal training courses (ITC) 91 4.538 207 5.014 298 4.869 8.728**
Day schools/seminars/conferences (DSC) 92 3.870 184 4.320 276 4.170 5.569*
Job rotation ( JR) 71 5.310 135 4.800 206 4.976 8.758**
E-learning courses (ELC) 74 3.432 166 4.060 240 3.867 9.346**
Outdoor training (OT) 69 4.768 148 4.635 217 4.677 0.485
Mentoring (M) 56 5.446 91 4.714 147 4.993 14.389***
Notes: Significant differences are for: *po0.05; **po0.01; ***po0.001
Table III.
Assessment by
coachees and HR
managers of the
contribution of
different techniques to
a lasting observable
behaviour change in
(coachee) executives
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interaction with the rest of the students is very limited; and conferences, seminars, and day
schools, which also involve little interaction and are only slightly if at alltailored to the
specific needs of each executive. This also squares with the primary trend in the literature.
Attendance-based courses and outdoor training stand in a half-way position, although
probably for different reasons: attendance-based courses provide structuring and
appropriate transmission of declarative knowledge, but suffer from a lack of action
and behavioural knowledge transmission, while outdoor training concentrates on
behavioural knowledge, tends to be lightly structured, does not address technical
knowledge and, as in the case of classroom-based courses, the training is only tailored to a
small degree to personal requirements.
4.3 Advantages and drawbacks of coaching as an MTDM
Having analysed the effectiveness of EC as an MTDM, we will now focus on the main
advantages and drawbacks, in order to provide HR officers with the tools to more accurately
assess whether it should be introduced.
Out of the 176 HR managers who answered this question, 52.27 per cent said that the
main advantage of this methodology is the customization of competency development and
the way in which it adapts to an executives specific needs.
Others felt that the principal advantage consisted of improvements in team leadership
skill (7.95 per cent), and the fact that it makes it possible to address certain basic aspects and
behaviour of professional/personal life that are difficult to tackle with other training
practices (6.85 per cent). Among the advantages least-frequently mentioned ( fewer than
5 per cent of informants) was an increase in managerial self-awareness, encouragement of
attitudes and capacities, and the practical nature of the methodology.
With regard to the perceived disadvantages of this approach, 20.37 per cent of HR
managers felt that the main handicap was the high cost. Other factors mentioned included:
excessive length of time required (sessions), leading to a loss in work hours (9.88 per cent);
difficulty finding a good professional coach because of the prevailing intrusiveness in this
market (6.79 per cent); the time spread involved in the process (6.17 per cent); and the
commitment and motivation required from the executive for the method to be effective
(7.41 per cent). Other disadvantages mentioned by a smaller number of HR managers
include inter alia the scepticism of senior management; lack of applicability; the enormous
variety of courses on offer; and the fact that it is difficult to measure its impact.
The evidence from HR managers therefore squares with the literature (Witherspoon and
White, 1996; Bozer and Joo, 2015; Jones et al., 2016), stressing the personalisation of
competency development to the executives needs, and its suitability for addressing attitudes,
abilities, and skills that are difficult to develop with traditional techniques, because of its
eminently practical nature, focussing on the executives key problems and needs.
However, the major limitations noted by HR managers include some practical aspects that
have received little attention in the literature: the high cost (also mentioned by Sherman and
Freas, 2004; Phillips and Phillips, 2005; Ely et al., 2010), and the protracted time (Ely et al., 2010)
required (which also translates into increased cost). They also mentioned difficulties in finding
a good coach and in securing a commitment from executives and senior management, factors
that have also been addressed in the literature (Kombarakaran et al., 2008; Rekalde et al. 2015),
mainly in defining the conditions necessary for success in a coaching process.
5. Conclusions and implications for management
Organisations can use a wide variety of MTDMs. The main differences between them are
the level of orientation towards the acquisition of declarative or behavioural knowledge
and the degree to which they are tailored to the specific needs of each executive or
organisation. In principle, the methods that facilitate the acquisition of behavioural
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knowledge on an individualised basis would appear to be the most appropriate for
achieving the change in behaviour needed to develop the target management competencies,
and EC is one such technique.
This work offers a multiple assessment of the capacity of coaching to achieve an
observable and lasting modification in executive behaviour. It was constructed from the
responses of two broad samples of managers: executives from different firms who have
engaged as coaches in a coaching process and HR managers who are familiar with coaching
and have, in the main, applied it. The study also compared the capacity of EC to that of the
most commonly used MTDMs. Various implications can be drawn from this analysis for
decision making in executive staff development:
(1) Coaching is a very effective technique for developing the management competencies
that an organisation needs, due to its ability to modify managerial behaviours in a
directed, personalised way, and make such changes last.
(2) It is the technique that meets with the widest acceptance and is the highest rated
among both executives and HR managers, thus increasing its probability of success.
(3) The high level of acceptance among executives for EC and also other personalised
action-geared techniques such as mentoring and job rotation, allow this technique to
be applied, not just as an instrument for changing behaviour, but also as an item of
motivation and reward.
(4) Human resource managers, however, also continue to trust attendance-based
executive training courses, especially when they are of longer duration or internal,
possibly because of the opportunity they provide for better control of the content
transmitted and the process result.
(5) Management competency development, aligned with the strategic needs of the
organisation and executivesinterests, requires the use of different training
techniques that will guarantee the appropriate transmission of the declarative and
behavioural knowledge that executives need to modify their behaviour in the
direction that the organisation seeks.
(6) Of all these techniques, coaching seems to provide the most effective method for
altering a selected number of concrete managerial behaviours, although its cost,
length, and specificity limit its capacity to be used exclusively as a tool for
continuous and generalised management training.
These conclusions should be further tested in future studies that overcome some of the
limitations of this work possible bias resulting from: self-reporting by coachees; rating
by HR managers of techniques chosen and financed by them; the fact that the coachees
were contacted through coaching certification organisations. Despite the difficulties of
the confidentiality of the coaching processes and access to executive coaches and coaches,
future studies should longitudinally evaluate the capacity of coaching and other
MTDMs to modify behaviour based on a plural assessment of each process by the
trainee, superiors, colleagues, and subordinates, preferably in different geographical and
cultural contexts.
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About the authors
Izaskun Rekalde is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business Studies
University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).
Jon Landeta is the Director of Executive MBA Program and a Professor of Human Resource
Management at the Faculty of Economics and Business Studies University of the Basque Country
(UPV/EHU). Jon Landeta is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: jon.landeta@ehu.eus
Eneka Albizu is the Director of the Institute of Applied Business Economics and a Professor at the
Faculty of Economics and Business Studies University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).
Pilar Fernandez-Ferrin is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business
Studies University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU).
For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website:
www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/licensing/reprints.htm
Or contact us for further details: permissions@emeraldinsight.com
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... Este funciona como un acelerador o herramienta educativa que lleva al líder a integrarse en un camino más rápido hacia el logro de sus objetivos (Gregory y Wiles, 2018), además de que funciona como una técnica muy efectiva para desarrollar habilidades por su capacidad de modificar comportamientos de una manera enfocada. Igualmente es la técnica con la más amplia aceptación entre los ejecutivos (Rekalde et al., 2017). El coach realiza un ejercicio consciente de la cultura organizacional y el potencial del coachee para lograr un progreso y de la efectiva comprensión del proceso depende que los resultados trasciendan los niveles contextuales (Athanasopoulou y Dopson, 2018). ...
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