Postgraduate Dissertation

How can coaching support managers experiencing stress at work? A grounded theory study


There is a vast interdisciplinary body of research exploring workplace stress and stress management interventions. Nevertheless, the issue of stress in the workplace remains significant and is increasing. The potential of workplace coaching as a stress management intervention has not been investigated, in depth, in the literature. This study explored how coaching can support managers experiencing stress at work, with the aim of contributing to coaching theory and practice and of making a difference in the workplace. Using Constructivist Grounded Theory, underpinned by a critical realist ontology, an emerging theory of coaching as a Generative Scaffold was developed. This summarises a process in which the coach supports the manager to generate insights, strength and action in order to address an experience of stress at work. In addition, this study was able to demonstrate how hidden power dynamics, inherent in the workplace, can affect an individual’s ability to tackle stress. It makes a case for coaches as agents of social change and it suggests that common coaching approaches might be missing vital ingredients if they are to be effective in supporting managers experiencing stress.

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Cartwright, Joanna


Rights Holders: Cartwright, Joanna
Supervisors: Iordanou, Ioanna

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Business and Management
Oxford Brookes Business School

Degree programme

MA Coaching and Mentoring Practice



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