Towards an impact evaluation : COMENSA's strategic intent to professionalise the South African coaching industry

Myburgh, Jacques Carl (2014-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The South African coaching and mentoring industry is a fragmented and unregulated work environment with no entry barriers. Industry standards and quality are undefined and dependent on a myriad of coaching training institutions, of which only one, the University of Stellenbosch, is registered with and quality assured by the National Qualifications Act. The result is a mixed bag of coaching approaches, philosophies and methodologies which are not necessarily grounded in evidence-based practice. Thus the industry is characterised by market confusion and an influx of untrained or poorly trained practitioners. Although coaching is not a high-risk occupation, it still carries a significant responsibility. It directly influences decision-making in business and in the lives of individuals. Consequently it has the potential for a considerable positive impact on society. However, the unregulated environment of South African coaching exposes the public to coaching behaviour which may be incompetent and unethical. The global demand for coaching has been growing steadily over the past few years and South Africa is no exception. Unfortunately this growth is at risk of stagnation and decreasing levels of trust – typical ingredients for a fad recipe. It must be stated though that there are pockets of excellence, often supported by international qualifications and credentials. In early 2013 the newly elected executive committee of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa) embarked on a bold journey to rectify this situation. A decision was made to professionalise the coaching industry by registering with government as a self-regulated professional body in 2014. To prepare for this, COMENSA launched a strategy for the development of local standards, credentialing and continuing professional development based on international benchmarking. This research documented the launch of the strategy through a monitoring and evaluation framework. It investigated the strategy's activities in relation to intended results. It also probed a number of direct stakeholders regarding their understanding and expectations of the strategy as well as their attitude towards it. The research yielded in-depth insights into the objectives of the strategy – some of them unstated in the strategic document, but still intended. It also uncovered a stakeholder view which contained indicators of the market confusion mentioned above. Finally, it identified a potential misalignment between the expectations of the strategy and the requirements contained in the government policy on self-regulated professionalisation. In conclusion it must be added that this research was the first phase of a longer-term monitoring and evaluation project on the impact of a professional coaching environment. Key words: COMENSA; coaching; professionalisation; self-regulation; monitoring and evaluation; impact evaluation; evaluating strategy.


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