This article describes the application of principles applied in the development of a Masters programme in Public Administration in the Netherlands fifteen years ago to the design of a very different programme for senior managers in a UK public bureaucracy. Both programmes placed heavy emphasis upon the role of the manager as learner and on the importance of practical application as the most significant part of the learning process. Rather than teach techniques the development team offered a variety of well established frameworks by means of which participants were encouraged to develop their understanding of themselves, their organisations, their roles within them and the pressures for change arising within the environment of their organisation. The objective was not only to develop areas of managerial competence but, perhaps more significantly, to encourage the higher levels of confidence necessary to managing in an increasingly uncertain and pressured environment. A significant contributor to the achievement of this end was a concentration on those frameworks which had worked effectively in a wide variety of situations and circumstances rather than on more novel and, perhaps, more fashionable approaches.
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