Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 1 2008, page 10-24.
‘No time for losers'
Coaching and the competitive self
Mikkel Risbjerg og Peter Triantafillou
Like in many other countries, coaching has gained increasing importance in Danish society during the last 10 to 15 years both inside and outside the workplace. The article outlines three different ways of viewing coaching in the current debate. These are, first, the ‘power free’ view regarding coaching as an emancipatory technique that promises to go beyond power relations. Second, the ‘cynical’ view approaches coaching as a sophisticated way of manipulating and repressing employees. Third, a Foucauldian inspired ‘power of freedom’ view which regards coaching as a human technology which arranges and puts into play a range of ethical practices (freedom) within a specific normative framework. Based on the latter, we suggest that coaching be seen as a ‘human technology’ which makes possible new ways of being both inside and outside the workplace. Perhaps the most problematic aspect of coaching is that it favours a form of freedom that is based on the normative affirmation of self as a source of endless self-improvement with a view to become more competitive. Within this moral sphere, other ethical practices are by default regarded as problematic or downright inferior.