Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Coaching unemployed managers and professionals through the trauma of unemployment: Derailed or undaunted?’

This article, written by D.E. Gray, Y. Gabriel and H. Goregaokar has been accepted for publication by Management Learning.

AbstractThe economic crisis of 2008/9 has increased unemployment amongst managers, particularly older managers, a group empirically under-researched. This longitudinal study assesses the efficacy of executive coaching for a group of unemployed professionals who participated in an intensive coaching programme aimed at reintegrating them into the economy. Results suggest that the majority were positive about coaching, a process that helped them to reflect on and learn from their new circumstances. Findings also contradict other studies, indicating cautious, cool and even hostile responses to coaching. The study highlights the mental fragility of previously successful, now unemployed managers.  From a policy perspective, interventions should start earlier (before employees leave an organisation) and finish later. From a social science perspective, executive coaching represents a modest but sometimes effective initiative to help unemployed professionals to re-write their life stories to make sense of their experiences.

Keywords: Executive coaching, unemployment, executive outplacement, managers, longitudinal design, storytelling

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Publication of new article: M.N.K.Saunder., D.E. Gray, and H. Goregaokar, (2014) ‘SME innovation and learning: the role of networks and crisis events.’ Journal of European Industrial Training.38(1/2) 136-149.


Purpose: To contribute to the literature on innovation and entrepreneurial learning by exploring how SMEs learn and innovate, how they use of both formal and informal learning and in particular the role of networks and crisis events within their learning experience.

Design/methodology/approach: Mixed method study, comprising 13 focus groups, over 1000 questionnaire responses from SME mangers, 13 focus groups and 20 case studies derived from semi-structured interviews.

Findings: SMEs have a strong commitment to learning, and a shared vision.  Much of this learning is informal through network events, mentoring or coaching.  SMEs that are innovative are significantly more committed to learning than those which are less innovative, seeing employee learning as an investment.  Innovative SMEs are more likely to have a shared vision, be open-minded and to learn from crises, being able to reflect on their experiences. 

Implications for research: There is a need for further process driven qualitative research to understand the interrelationship between, particularly informal, learning, crisis events and SME innovation.

Implications for practice: SME owners need opportunities and time for reflection as a means of stimulating personal learning – particularly the opportunity to learn from crisis events.  Access to mentors (often outside the business) can be important here, as are informal networks. 

Originality/value: This is one of the first mixed method large scale studies to explore the relationship between SME innovation and learning, highlighting the importance of informal learning to innovation and the need for SME leaders to foster this learning as part of a shared organisational vision. 

Categorization: research paper.

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