Interest in the issue of management development has become a major preoccupation in recent years amongst both practitioners and management theorists. Constable and McCormick (1987) and Handy (1987) have both noted the inadequacy of British managerial education in their reports and unambiguously urged for a steep increase in management development efforts. The outcome has been a dramatic upsurge in the demand for managerial education and development both through the established educational institutions as well as management consultancies. Storey (1989) notes that the common theme which prevails is “to treat management development as a key device to engineer organizational change” (Storey 1989: 4). One major consequence of this understanding has been the concerted attempts to identify key managerial competencies which it is believed will lead to better managerial performance. While this has become the central preoccupation of the Management Charter Initiative, there are those who view this search for a generalisable list of managerial competencies with increasing apprehension (Burgoyne 1989). Burgoyne contends that a “universal mechanistic differentiated list of managerial competencies” is highly inappropriate because it overlooks the holistic nature of the management process. The idea of the possibility of arriving at a universal list of managerial competencies is predicated upon a particular understanding which privileges a pro‐observational model of what managers do. Thus following Mintzberg (1973) and Stewart (1967), a number of writers have continued to propose alternative models which are claimed to reflect more accurately effective managerial action (Kotter 1982; Luthans, Rosenkrantz and Hennessey 1985). Despite these attempts however, the nature of management remains an open question (Stewart 1984).
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