Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The book progresses through a neat series of chapter headings. “Setting the objectives” appropriately comes first, followed by four chapters: “What do you want your managers to do/think/feel/see?”. The remaining chapters have less of a common theme, addressing issues such as whether you run programmes “in house” or “in school”, MBA programmes and whether tailored degrees are desirable. There are specific chapters on “Developing the global manager”, on board room schemes and, of course, no book nowadays is complete without something on technology.
This struck me as an ideal book to read on a plane. It is well written at a journalistic level, does not stretch the mind, but conveys some items of useful knowledge without requiring the reader to make detailed notes.
For this reviewer, it felt like a collection of hors d’oeuvres. Nothing is studied in depth, but what is presented is attractively presented with illustrative case material. In many respects, it is similar to the book Gravy Training by Crainer and Dearlove. However, the prospective focus of that book was clear in the title; in this case, the authors provide a title which raises expectations which they do not fulfil. The focus is almost entirely on formal training and education, and that focus is directed particularly at the business schools. There is nothing about the processes of learning in and through the job, which is increasingly the focus of much effective management development.
In contrast, you will read that between two‐thirds and three‐quarters of all the MBAs were recruited by investment banks and management consultants in the 1980s and 1990s. The book implies that some business schools have recognized that there might be a consequence in this for what they are teaching – but we are given no indication of what that might be. Although the book does balance comments drawn from some parts of Europe, the UK and USA, it omits – despite its attention to the business schools – any reference to the redesign of an MBA programme recorded by Boyatsis, Cowen and Kolb in relation to the Case Weatherhead School at Cleveland. The difficulties of lifelong learning are expressed solely by the comment that: “only 2 percent of LBS alumni ever attend subsequent executive education courses” – as if that was the defining characteristic of lifelong learning. We know from this book nothing about what business schools might be doing to facilitate lifelong learning in other ways – perhaps because they do not. It would be valuable to know. I was not surprised, though as usual dismayed, to find no reference at all to the learning processes through which management development might be achieved. I was surprised and equally dismayed to find that, in their chapter “Special considerations”, there were no references to issues of gender or national culture.
Developers could certainly gain from reading this book – for example, the lists of pros and cons on tailored degrees; I suspect the authors have both the experience and the capacity to have produced a better book.