State of Knowledge: Conflict Coaching Theory, Application, and Research

AuthorRoss Brinkert
Date01 June 2016
Published date01 June 2016
C R Q, vol. 33, no. 4, Summer 2016 383
© 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. and the Association for Confl ict Resolution
Published online in Wiley Online Library ( • DOI: 10.1002/crq.21162
State of Knowledge: Con ict Coaching Theory,
Application, and Research
Ross Brinkert
is article begins by revisiting the origins of confl ict coaching to rec-
ognize the many and varied contributions that led to its emergence.
e period of 2005 to 2015 is then considered in depth and organized
according to theory, application, and research developments.  e third
portion of the article consists of six propositions on the current state of
confl ict coaching.  ese propositions are intended to help guide those
involved with confl ict coaching on scholarly and practitioner levels in
the coming years.
C onfl ict coaching is primarily a dyadic process in which a coach trained
in confl ict resolution or executive coaching works with a client to
develop the client s confl ict-related understanding, interaction strategies,
and interaction skills (Brinkert 2006 ). It emerged and gained prominence
in the confl ict resolution fi eld largely because one or more parties did not
want to participate in mediation (Tidwell 1997 ). Its uses have become
considerably more varied.  is article retraces and updates writing on the
origins of confl ict coaching before providing a thorough overview of what
has been accomplished in the area since 2005.  e article concludes by
off ering six propositions to make sense of the state today and suggest direc-
tions of growth for confl ict coaching.
A Note on Method
Confl ict coaching is situated at the intersection of two fi elds, both com-
posed of individuals from various academic and professional backgrounds.
Accordingly, contributors to the conversation publish work in varied
places.  is makes searching for relevant writing a challenging task. In
384 brinkert
C R Q • DOI: 10.1002/crq.21162
general, the approach used for this article was to prioritize the search for
peer-reviewed articles, scholarly and respected professional books, and
other edited writing.
Origins: Prior to 2005
While the origins of confl ict coaching have previously been addressed
(Brinkert 2006 ), coverage of the origins is included here to enhance under-
standing of this period and to provide context for later actual and pro-
posed activities. Reexamination of the origins period arguably suggests that
those in the confl ict resolution community (broadly understood as those
engaged with the Association for Confl ict Resolution and its predecessor
organizations and including those from various academic and professional
specialties) played the primary initial role. At the same time, it is clear that
people from beyond the confl ict resolution fi eld were also contributors,
and sometimes major contributors, particularly as time progressed.
Coaching has been a part of the ombuds fi eld for some time. Upon
consideration of Casey s ( 2007 ) work in tracing the history of the ombuds
eld, Brinkert ( 2010a ) suggested that informal coaching by some ombuds
was occurring at least as early as the 1970s. Gadlin ( 2014a , 398), possibly
the dominant contemporary authority in the ombuds fi eld, recently reiter-
ated this view in writing that some ombuds were using the term coaching
to describe initial meetings with guests “well before the current blossoming
of various sorts of coaches.”
Confl ict coaching emerged and became a distinct concept in the con-
ict resolution fi eld between the early 1990s and 2001.  e rst formally
developed confl ict-specifi c coaching-type process was created at Macquarie
University in Australia in 1993 (Tidwell 1997 ). Called problem solving for
one , it was a dyadic, interest-based process for an individual in a confl ict
situation where one or more parties did not want to engage in mediation.
In January 1996, Folger and Jones began using the term confl ict coaching
to describe confl ict styles coaching for individual disputants in the Temple
University campus-based student-focused confl ict resolution program,
the Confl ict Education Resource Team (CERT; Brinkert 1999 ; Jameson
1998 ). Confl ict coaching at Temple University was expanded to include
confl ict coaching for better engaging issues of diversity as preparation for
possible confrontation and for possible mediation (Brinkert 2000 ). In writ-
ing about integrated confl ict management systems, Cloke and Goldsmith

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