Title: The pivotal and powerful role of the action learning coach

Authors: Sara H. Gibson

Addresses: Institute of Social Innovation, Fielding Graduate University, 1702 Indian Wells, Leander, Texas 78641, USA

Abstract: Action Learning is a group process design that was developed for the purpose of solving intractable human problems in organisations. Organisations large and small have successfully used action learning for a variety of purposes: to solve problems, to develop the organisation's learning capacity, to build teams, to promote personal development and to develop leadership skills (Marquardt, 1999). This article describes a qualitative study that used interviews with experienced action learning coaches to answer the research question: How do action-learning coaches create a climate conducive to learning? The findings indicate that action-learning coaches use themselves as instruments to help unfreeze participants' behaviour, introduce important changes and then refreeze behaviour at a higher and more effective level of functioning.

Keywords: psychological climate; psychological safety; evaluative pressures; coaching; pivotal roles; group processes; process designs; intractable problems; human problems; problem solving; learning capacity; team building; teams; personal development; leadership skills; Michael Marquardt; participant behaviour; facilitation; facilitators; functioning levels; unfreezing; refreezing; human resource development; HRD; human resource management; HRM; action learning coaches; organisational practice.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRDM.2012.049786

International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, 2012 Vol.12 No.4, pp.308 - 328

Available online: 15 Oct 2012 *

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