N Terblanche, D Cilliers Philosophy of Coaching: An International Journal 2020
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is making in-roads into many spheres of life, including workplace coaching. The introduction of a new class of support technologies (‘e-coaching systems’ or ‘AI Coaching’) promise to deliver personalised, timely, around-the-clock coaching in a wide variety of domains and to a broad audience. Chatbots as a type of e-coaching system and a form of Weak AI in particular, has the potential to replace or augment human coaches in certain instances, however it seems that speculation and hype is clouding our understanding of its true potential. This is reminiscent of the lack of evidence-based practice in coaching itself. To prevent AI Coaching from following a similar route, empirical research is needed. In this paper we summarise the findings of one of the first ever studies on the use of AI in organisational coaching. We used the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) as a theoretical framework to examine the determinants associated with individuals’ behavioural intention to use an AI Coach (a goal-attainment chatbot called Vicci). A total of 226 users had a coaching conversation with Vicci and then completed the UTAUT survey. Determinants of behavioural intention were measured: performance and effort expectancies, social influence, facilitating conditions, attitude and perceived risk. Structural equation modelling analysis revealed that performance expectancy, social influence and attitude are the main determinants of behavioural intent, while age, gender and level of goal attainment play a moderating role.