Benita Mayhead

Thesis title: Duty of care of the executive coach

Start year: 2019

Supervisor(s): Dr Ioanna Iordanou, Professor Peter Lugosi

Research topic

Duty of care in coaching is an under researched area. Coaching literature offers theoretical ethical best practice, yet research is lacking on coaches’ experiences, enactments and understanding of duty of care. Duty of care is part of the ethical framework of conduct in how an individual acts in relation to promoting the welfare of others and is associated with the coach’s own sense of what is fair and right, connected to the coach’s own principles of behaviour. Duty of care is omnipresent, transcending across all interactions of the coach both legally and ethically, yet there are no specific coaching laws, unlike regulated professions such as medicine or psychotherapy. There have been calls for the introduction of coaches needing obligatory membership to either a regulatory or professional coaching body. Whilst professional coaching bodies have ethical codes, these codes focus primarily on principles of competence and skill, and do not address the moral and ethical side of a coach’s practice. This research study aims to critically review duty of care literature in relation to ethical practice in professional contexts, specifically executive coaching. Using semi structured interviews with executive coaches, the aim is to explore their sense making of duty of care and how they enact it, and to evaluate their understanding of it in relation to their own roles, to their clients and to coaching. The research will contribute to the theory of duty of care, and to the development of understanding in how executive coaches form their professional sense of it.


Duty of care, executive coaching, ethics

Academic School / Department

Oxford Brookes Business School