Contrasts development centres and assessment centres. Suggests five formats as typical for development centres and reviews their applications. Lists variables in development centre design and highlights trends that are emerging to deal with contemporary organization requirements. Discusses the issues of what capabilities development centres should develop. Suggests transferable but unique capabilities are a paradox that must be resolved. Identifies a shift away from competences as necessary to sustain the commercial credibility of development centres ‐ and the personnel function. Highlights cognitive psychology as the basis for the new design focus. Concludes that development centres can remain the most effective way to create agreed futures for both staff and their organizations only if major changes take place.
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