Over the last decade, research has been reported that appears to underline a mismatch between what is supplied by public sector support agencies in the form of small to medium‐sized enterprise (SME) management and leadership development programmes and market needs and expectations. Thus, this paper analyses the underlying issues and progresses understanding through the use of a case study of a significant public sector support agency, along with a focus on one particular industry sector – that of tourism. Findings confirm views that historically there has been a degree of market failure, however, currently there is evidence of sound attempts to reorient from a supply‐driven to a market‐driven model of management development provision. Still to be fully addressed is the development of a cohesive framework that co‐ordinates and facilitates management and leadership development as a lifelong learning. Thus, one of the contributions of this paper is the formulation of such a framework that could provide a reorienting model for SMEs.
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