The difficulty of getting busy executives to focus their attention during management and executive development programmes is discussed. The experience of programmes conducted at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) from 1986 to 1988 is built on. A set of behaviours and attitudes is identified which blocks and creates resistance to learning in programme sessions. To deal with these attitudes and behaviours, a general principle can be useful in programme design: a development programme has to provide a level of stimulation and learning equal to or greater than the experience one is getting in the workplace or from work. Analysis of programme evaluations and follow‐up discussion with participants reveal that three factors can be used to overcome resistance to management development and significantly influence overall programme performance, and these are described and discussed.
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