Management development for different contexts and special needs HR Management

Up until now we have stressed an open systems perspective in which the need for management development to acknowledge contextual diversity and complexity is a significant consideration. This section will explore a variety of different contexts in which development takes place and looks at the needs of different managers. Thus attempts to evaluate development methods may fail to satisfy the purist, and much of this stems from the diffuseness of the target that is being examined and the difficulty of isolating procedures from the real constraints and politics of the organisations in which they are taking place.

  • Senior manager development

Many of those involved in planning, organising and facilitating management development in organisations encounter a paradox when they seek to address senior management development. On the one hand, senior managers are viewed as a valuable and critical resource to the survival and success of the organisation (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998; Syrett and Lammiman, 1999).

Logic therefore dictates that during periods of radical change their knowledge and skills must be maintained at levels consistent with meeting the challenges of change. And yet on the other hand, their development often appears to be inadequate or neglected. For instance, a survey of 295 HR specialists in the late 1990s revealed that 50 per cent of organisations surveyed did not have a strategy for developing their senior managers (Industrial Society, 1997).

  • Barriers to senior manager development?

What might explain this apparent neglect of senior manager development activity? Explanations range from the pressure of work and a lack of time that prevent them from engaging in their personal development – individually and collectively – to deeper emotional and political attitudes about their perceived need for development. As Syrett and Lammiman (1999) identify:

In identifying the problem, Syrett and Lammiman may also have uncovered a contributory factor when they appear to suggest that development should revolve around the availability of suitable courses.

However, as we have already seen in the preceding sections, management development should be viewed as being far broader than merely sending people on management training courses – important as they are. But there may be a deeper reason inhibiting some senior managers from participating in development activity. Simply put, they do not believe they need it! Logically in their mind, the very fact they have attained senior level shows that they possess the skills and capabilities to perform at that level. There may also be political and credibility considerations which prevent them participating. Admitting you may need developing could offer your opponents a political advantage or undermine your credibility with senior management colleagues.

  • How should senior managers be developed?

Individually, the role of a senior manager demands a considerable emphasis on strategic leadership coupled to legal and regulatory duties that are not found in other management roles. Collectively, senior managers have to be developed to work as an effective team while at the same time maintaining a required independence of thought and behavior (Mumford, 1997).

Woodall and Winstanley (1998) identify four stages in the process of developing senior managers:

  • Grooming – managers are prepared for the transition to the boardroom by giving them wider responsibilities and exposure to a range of managerial experiences.
  • Induction – having entered the boardroom, senior managers are familarised with the cultures, processes and practices that prevail there – both formal and informal.
  • Competencies within the role – an assessment of the individual’s current level of skills and ability benchmarked against what is required to develop senior manager competence.
    Individual development plans are prepared through joint discussion and negotiation.
  • Team effectiveness – the collective development needs of the senior manager team are assessed in areas such as group interaction, team roles etc. and a development plan for the top team is implemented.

Research suggests that senior managers prefer to learn through informal learning processes. They are ‘less comfortable with formal settings where the agenda is written by someone else and they do not have control over whom they exchange views with’ (Syrett and Lammiman, 1999). In many ways, development for senior managers mirrors the approaches that are used at lower levels.

They will incorporate a blend of formal and informal methods, e.g. job rotation, secondments, mentoring, role shadowing, project working, special assignments, action learning combined with management education, conferences, seminars, forums etc. (Mumford, 1988, 1997; Industrial Society, 1997; Syrett and Lammiman, 1999). However, it is important to note that the content and emphasis given to aspects such as political, leadership and change skills are likely to differ markedly to reflect strategic, legal, regulatory and fiduciary roles as well as the added emotional and psychological burden that is inherent in such roles.

  • Developing professionals as managers

The development of professionals (scientists, doctors, engineers, accountants etc.) as managers presents those responsible for management development with a number of interesting challenges.

  • The special characteristics of professionals

Woodall and Winstanley (1998) identify professionals as having the following characteristics:

  • expertise based on a distinct body of knowledge;
  • altruistic service orientation to work;
  • autonomy and independence;
  • restrictive entry;
  • collective peer group collegiate relations
  • code of professional ethics;
  • power through expertise;
  • professional goals above the organisation.

Bittel (1998) argues that the main challenge for developers stems from the highly individualistic approach that professionals have towards their work. They view professional work as rewarding and intellectually challenging. They are generally loyal to their profession and the values it espouses. But when faced with the challenge of moving into management, they may display a number of what Bittel deems are ‘counterproductive characteristics’. They:

  • over-apply their analytical skills and can become paralysed by analysis;
  • are insensitive to others and feel they are above organisational politics;
  • expect their technical expertise to solve organisational problems;
  • respect logic and intuition over emotion;
  • lack feeling and empathy;
  • lack awareness of common-sense solutions to problems.

There is of course a danger of generalising too far here and becoming a prey to stereotyping. Undoubtedly, some professionals make very good managers and are particularly good with people (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998). But others face conflict between their role as professional and their role as manager. For example, recent research in secondary education amongst heads of department and deputy heads highlights the clash between the professional role as teacher and the role of middle manager (Adey, 2000).

In the NHS, similar clashes were identified. Some doctors who found themselves moving into management by default became more concerned with protecting their corner and loyalty to their professional colleagues. However, other doctors welcomed their move into management, were loyal and committed to the organisation and viewed themselves as a member of the management team (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998).

  • How to approach the management development of professionals?

As we have seen, one area that demands close attention is the conflict between professional and managerial value systems. Clearly, approaches to development that challenge these values are likely to be resented and resisted. For example, in the NHS, competencebased approaches that were seen to be generic, highly prescriptive and structured did not go down well with professional groups (Currie and Darby, 1995).

Other research highlights the potential dangers of using what are perceived to be generic, simplistic, off-the-shelf training courses for developing professionals. For example, in education, the government has made the management development of head teachers a key priority. But amongst some head teachers management theory is seen as ‘applied social science’ offering simplistic recipes to complex problems. Research suggests that overall, professionals in education may prefer a more contingent, personalized approach to their development and the issues it raises (Bolam, 1997).

The spirit of this personalised approach is captured in the notion of continuous professional development (CPD). As most professions now incorporate elements of management into their requirement for CPD, the issue then becomes one of identifying what is the best approach for professionals to adopt and what, from the requisite professional body viewpoint, constitutes ‘good’ development.

In summary, it would seem that in terms of professional development, the issue is not so much one of access and the availability of management development but recognizing that professionals have special needs and prefer to plan and organise their own development to meet those needs in a contingent manner. For developers the message is clear: resist the temptation to direct professionals into structured, mechanistic and simplistic approaches. Instead, offer advice and support within the framework and spirit of CPD where reflective and experiential on-the-job approaches such as multidiscipline projects and individual assignments linked to coaching and mentoring seem to work best.

  • Graduate management development

Recent research reveals that of those organisations surveyed, 68 per cent viewed graduate recruitment and development as a key feature of their business strategy (The Industrial Society, 1998). Graduates are recruited – usually directly from university or shortly after they graduate – for broadly two purposes. Firstly, they provide essential specialist knowledge and skills, e.g. scientific, engineering, computing etc. Secondly, they ‘create a pool of intelligent people with high potential as a means of providing for management of the future’ (Mumford, 1997: 222).

  • Developing graduates as managers

Following a rigorous selection process – usually involving an assessment centre – successful graduates will work with their organisation to prepare a personal development plan. The plan will normally focus on the development of both hard and soft managerial skills – building on the information obtained at the assessment centre and other identified needs. The essential principles of CPD are that development should be continuous; it should be owned and managed by the learner; learning objectives should be clear and wherever possible, serve both organisational needs as well as individual goals.

And regular investment of an individual’s time in learning should be seen as an essential part of professional life. (Little, 1997: 28)In respect of the way in which graduates are developed as managers, Mumford (1997) argues:

In most cases, management development will last between one and two years and involve joint and independent project working across a number of functional areas. Increasingly, there is the probability of being seconded to other divisions and undertaking overseas assignments (see the section on international management development later in this chapter). Development at all stages should be supported by a comprehensive system of mentoring and performance appraisal to provide essential feedback at critical stages in the development plan. Upon successful completion of the development plan, graduates will normally assume a junior management position and progress in their chosen career.

  • Management development in the small firm

The economic role of small firms (defined generically as less than 50 people) in creating wealth and employment is widely acknowledged in the UK and beyond. For example, small firms account for 90 per cent of employing companies in the EU and employ some 30 million people (Kerr and McDougall, 1999). In the UK, 75 per cent of employers are classified as small firms. However, while small firms employ the bulk of the workforce, they also display a high failure rate. In Australia, for example, some 30 000 small firms fail each year, 50 per cent fail in the first two years and only 20 per cent survive beyond ten years (Saee and Mouzytchenko, 1999). In the UK 65–75 per cent collapse or are sold during first-generation ownership tenure (Syert and Lammiman, 1999).

  • Management development as a strategic issue for the small firm

While there are many factors that may be cited as contributing to this high rate of failure, the lack of management knowledge and expertise is viewed as a major factor (Saee and Mouzytchenko, 1999). Certainly, there appears to be sound evidence to suggest that few managers in small firms receive formal management training. For instance, research indicates that one in four managers receives no training and only 15 per cent of managers had received a maximum of two weeks’ training over two years – comparable to larger firms (IRS Employment review, 1997).

A similar picture is revealed by Thomson et al. (2001), who found that while there had been improvements in the development of managers in small firms in recent years, one in five managers received no training at all.

  • Why the apparent lack of management development in the small firm?

The quoted statistics above may be a cause for some pessimism but you should note that, in the main, they relate to formal modes of development such as training and management education rather than less formal, on-the-job development. Nevertheless, research suggests that the reasons why small firms appear to ignore or avoid investing in management development are fairly clear and consistent. The following reasons are identified as the main barriers to development (Saee and Mouzytchenko, 1999; Kerr and McDougall, 1999; Thomson et al., 2001):

  • lack of time;
  • lack of resources to fund formal training;
  • lack of previous formal education;
  • concerns about realising returns on investment in management training;
  • not knowing where or how to get advice and assistance;
  • complicated procedures and bureaucracy when applying for assistance.

Another significant barrier arises from the peculiarities, idiosyncrasies and diversity of the small firm sector. This often makes the transfer and take-up of mainstream, largeorganisation- focused methods problematical (Tolentino, 1998). Problems also emerge when management development is reduced to the provision of ‘enterprise training’ encompassing basic skills in operations, HRM marketing, finance etc.

Other barriers may arise from the attitudes and values that are to be found in small firms. Kerr and McDougall (1999), researching 130 small firms in Scotland, found that a short term outlook, pragmatism, a desire for informality and the need to survive were considerations that often took precedence over training or business planning. In another study of small firms in the hotel and leisure industry, Beaver and Lashley (1998) found that ‘managers running small firms have a wider variety of roles and different priorities than those running larger enterprises’.

for instance, the assumption that all owner/managers are motivated solely by commercial objectives ‘is naïve’. Many in fact attach more significance to personal lifestyle considerations. In the same vein, Tolentino (1998) makes the point that small firm managers have a different outlook to managers in larger firms in areas such as entrepreneurship, risk-taking, personal achievement and control. They have a much closer identification with the business and the family/community in which it is located.

  • Promoting management development in the small firm

Considerations for a strategy for developing managers in the small firm would include the following:

  • identifying the knowledge and skills required by small firm owner/managers;
  • delivering development in a way that acknowledges the sector’s diversity and uniqueness;
  • finding ways to overcome the bureaucracy and provide accessible and affordable approaches to development.
  • Managerial knowledge and skills for the small firm

In terms of the knowledge and skills required, these are seemingly well understood and documented. Thomson et al. (2001) cite Bolton’s list of skills as typical of those that are felt to be required:

  • raising and using finance;
  • costing and control information;

This view however, springs from an economic model of small businesses as large firms scaled down, a model which many consider to be deeply flawed. … Management development is seen as a subordinate priority to the need to improve the institutional and structural framework within which small firms operate. (Thomson et al., 2001: 205)

  • organising and delegating;
  • marketing;
  • using information;
  • personnel management;
  • dealing with technological change;
  • production scheduling and purchase control.

Other studies have shown that while these areas were important, many small firm managers were lacking the required level of knowledge and skills in these key areas. For example, one survey found that small firm managers were particularly lacking in areas such as: the ability to appraise performance; strategic planning; teamworking and communication (IRS Employment Review, 1997).

So what might constitute a suitable framework of delivery methods and approaches? Tolentino (1998) suggests that the following points should constitute a framework for good management development practice:

  • Identify training needs in conjunction with managers.
  • Adopt a demand-led approach to learning.
  • Ensure that training is close to the workplace and at suitable times.
  • Provide support with costs but ensure that the firm makes some contribution.
  • Use of consultancy-led approach.
  • Work with managers from other small firms for advice and benchmarking.

In terms of support to facilitate development of managers, the role of the CEO/owner is seen as a crucial factor, as is the support given by experienced external consultants/ advisers (Wong et al., 1997; Kerr and McDougall, 1999). Other studies highlight the role of various government agencies, tax incentives and loans, and the impact of the Investors in People initiative in promoting and supporting management development in small firms (Beaver and Lashley, 1998).

In summary, it is clear that the needs of the small firm manager have similarities to those of managers in larger organisations but they also differ sharply in a number of important respects. Success in developing these managers has to begin with a careful and considered examination of the context in which they are managing, allied to an understanding of their individual and collective motives and needs; and ensuring that whatever methods or approaches that are adopted are relevant and affordable.

  • Management development in the public sector

Management in the UK public sector has often been the butt of criticism from politicians, journalists and other commentators about its seemingly bureaucratic, inefficient and unfocused approach to organisation and management. Cooper (2002) captures the mood in a recent newspaper article: many senior public sector managers thought that ‘management’ was about changing organisational systems, committee structures, and hierarchy charts rather than developing and investing in their vision/long term objectives and the people who achieve them. For them management meant bureaucratic action, fiddling with committees, setting up control systems and dealing with detail.

While some of this criticism may be justified, other criticisms of public sector management often come from those who are ill-informed about the many conflicting and competing pressures that face many public sector managers. According to Bicker and Cameron (1997), managers in public sector organisations face a number of conflicting demands stemming from:

  • resource constraints;
  • a hostile owner;
  • pressure to emulate private sector practices;
  • the need to maintain the public sector ethic;
  • union pressures and demands.

It is not difficult to see how these demands may conflict when, for example, pressures to emulate profit-driven commercial organisations have to be reconciled with attitudes and behaviours that give primacy to values such as public service and patient care. Similarly, public sector managers increasingly have to motivate employees to attain higher standards of national or local government-imposed performance standards in situations where working conditions are often inferior to those in the private sector and where incentive opportunities are severely curtailed by public sector spending constraints.

With these pressures in mind, the choice of management development methods is important. The focus for management development in the public sector should, according to Bicker and Cameron, be on ‘key enablers’:

  • roles and responsibilities – providing clarity and accountability;
  • leadership skills – including influencing, decision-making and communication skills;
  • attitudes – including risk-taking and openness.

For many public sector organisations, expensive management training courses are not an option – given the resource restrictions they face. As a recent study of a management training initiative in the NHS revealed, there may be resistance to externally driven courses that are premised on values that run counter to or deviate from those that predominate in the public sector (Currie, 1999).

Given these resource or value-driven constraints, managers in the public sector are more likely to be predisposed towards less formal, on-the-job methods that are rooted in their organisational context and meet the challenges they face (Currie, 1999). Methods such as project working, coaching, mentoring, action learning and, where appropriate, professional partnerships with colleges and universities are likely to receive greater support (Mavin and Bryans, 2000).

  • International management development

A growing number of organisations are now seeking to ‘globalise’ their organisations in their quest for greater market and product opportunities. A number of factors appear to have facilitated this trend:

  • the fluidity of global capital;
  • advances in technology and transport;
  • greater cooperation between organisations in different countries;
  • encouragement given to inward investment for job creation.

Globalisation raises a number of issues for managerial learning, work and managerial careers (Anderson et al., 1998; Kumar and Usunier, 2001; Miroshnik, 2002).

For example:

  • To what extent does the concept of management move easily across international boundaries, e.g. what is the impact of national culture on management behaviour?
  • Are we seeing the appearance of the ‘truly’ international manager?
  • What skills and knowledge do managers need to develop to enable them to work and survive in a global marketplace?
  • How do you develop international managers?
  • Management as an international concept

You should note as you read these chapters that there are methodological and conceptual issues and controversies connected with studying HRM from an international perspective. Of particular relevance to this section are issues connected with the lack of accurate and longitudinally focused data; diversity in language and culture leading to variations in meaning and interpretation; and a tendency to generalise from specific data sources, which makes any comparison between countries difficult.

Noting these qualifiers, there is some evidence to suggest that certain aspects of HRM are starting to converge across the globe. For example, there is some evidence of a shared technical language and certain HR practices such as job evaluation, staff appraisal and teamworking share a common understanding (Brewster and Tyson, 1992; Phillips, 1992). However, others argue that it is divergence not convergence that is taking place in terms of management thinking and practice.

It is argued that national cultural diversity (residual effects of history, beliefs, values, attitudes, religion and language) has now become a key determinant in influencing management behaviour. Furthermore, ‘these differences may become one of the most crucial problems for management – in particular, for the management of multinational, multicultural organisations whether public or private’ (Hofstede, 1990: 392).

This view is supported by others such as Hansen and Brooks (1994) who observe that, while structures and technologies may converge, divergent ‘cultural factors influence management models, thinking styles, career expectations, organisational culture, change efforts and instructional needs and development’. The issue of cultural diversity influencing the transplantation of management concepts across the globe is normally associated with the transfer of Western, Anglo-Saxon management concepts to other parts of the globe.

But the influence of cultural diversity can be detected when efforts are made to transfer ideas to the West. For example, problems have been encountered in transferring Japanese management concepts such as quality circles to a Western cultural context (Miller and Cangemi, 1993; Redman et al., 1995b).

  • How are organisations approaching international management development?

For multinational organisations such as Philips and Unilever, development is focused on the creation of elite cadres of international managers tasked with building efficient networks of organisations operating across national boundaries (Bartlett and Ghoshal,1989; Handy and Barham, 1990; Barham and Oates, 1991).

However, while organisations such as Unilever may adopt a strategic, integrated approach to development, others are adopting an approach to international management development that – like UK management development – is best described as ‘piecemeal’ in orientation (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998). In addition to piecemeal approaches, those who develop international managers are faced with the perception that many managers in the USA and UK are ‘simply not global animals’ (Ferner, 1994: 91).

The problem is rooted in what might be termed a ‘cultural blindness’ which seemingly limits the ability of many Western managers to work in multicultural environments (Miroshnik, 2002). It is axiomatic therefore that an inability to address cultural diversity has the potential to undermine management development strategies in an international context (Liu and Vince, 1999). The primary focus for international management development therefore becomes the need to ensure that ‘working effectively in multiple cross-cultural contexts is … a vital competence’ (Harris and Kumra, 2000).

It is crucial that managers who are going to undertake an international assignment are properly prepared for the experience of expatriation. Preparation may include company briefings, short visits to host countries, cultural awareness and a language skills course. If families are accompanying the manager, an increasing number of organizations will involve spouses and partners in such preparation activities to include relocation, housing and education considerations (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998).

Alongside this, the development of social cultural, communication and empathetic knowledge and skills will be a priority. As Miroshnik (2002) points out, ‘Different cultural environments require different managerial behaviours … managing relations between multicultural organisations and cultural environments is thus a matter of accurate perception, diagnosis and appropriate adaptation’. It is clear that to be effective, this process of cultural awareness must begin well before the manager arrives at their international destination (Harris and Kumra, 2000).

As well as effective pre-preparation, successful development of the international manager must also be predicated on the establishment of clear international management development policies supported by and integrated with an appropriate international manager selection, recruitment, appraisal, career and reward infrastructure (Harzing and Van Ruysseveldt, 1995). For instance, Unilever’s strategic approach ensures that managers are fully supported to work overseas through the introduction of detailed HR policies aimed at a global alignment of management development.

Policies must also support the reintegration of the managers following their overseas assignment where there are issues such as status, ongoing career development, adapting to a different lifestyle to consider.

  • Who are these international managers?

Before we discuss the methods used to develop managers for international assignments, it is useful to reflect on what we mean by the term ‘international manager’. Unpacking the concept, we find that there are different types of international manager:

  • local nationals employed by multinational to manage locally (host);
  • managers who live abroad and run overseas divisions or companies (expatriates);
  • managers on short missions or projects (sales teams, plant installation);
  • managers who work across national boundaries (Euro-manager, Middle East).

In the past, the emphasis has been on expatriate managers whose primary role was to protect the interests of the multinational organisation (Rosenfeld and Wilson, 1999). They were generally male, married and working overseas was a permanent career for them. However, this type of international manager is giving way to a more ‘flexible’ type of international manager – one who may undertake ‘one or two assignments in the course of their careers in order to gain international experience’ (Harris and Kumra, 2000: 603). In addition, a small but growing number of these managers are women. But as we shall see shortly, this raises a further set of issues for developers to consider.

  • The knowledge and skills required for effective international management?

Phillips (1992) summarises the views of most commentators and practitioners in the following list:

  • technical skills and experience often beyond those normally required at home, for example the engineer who needs sound financial management skills;
  • people skills – cultural empathy, team-building and interpersonal skills;
  • intellectual skills – seeing the big picture, and thinking in a macro not micro way;
  • emotional maturity – being adaptable, independent, sensitive, self-aware;
  • motivation – drive, enthusiasm, stamina, resilience and persistence.

But despite the recognition of the importance of softer skills, there is a risk that technical expertise may come to dominate and dictate the development agenda at the expense of softer skills development. Other risks include:

  • the reliance on selection processes that rest heavily on personal recommendations;
  • a successful track record in a national rather than an international context;
  • selection criteria based on Western competences and personality traits which may not be suitable for an overseas appointment.

If such risks are not addressed, organisations may be in danger of setting their international managers up to fail, with serious consequences for the organisation and the individual.

  • Methods used to develop international management skills

Methods to develop international skills are eclectic and will vary according to the organisation, the type of international assignment that is planned, the nature of the host country etc. They will include formal programmes of management education to develop language skills and cultural awareness. They will also include on-the-job activities such as international exchanges, projects and action learning programmes to develop technical expertise, communication and interpersonal skills. But picking up the earlier point about cultural diversity, the emphasis will always be on cross-cultural training that is designed to ‘get beyond the home country mentality’ (Handy and Barham, 1990).

Organisations must engender a new level of cultural awareness in their managers and ‘management development must contribute to the creation of a new corporate culture and a new managerial mind-set’ (Barham and Oates, 1991). GrandMet provides a useful example of how one organisation has implemented this approach:

  • Developing women as international managers

A recent KPMG survey of 164 Western companies found that 94 per cent said it was important to send people on international assignments; however, they also pointed out that finding the right people for international assignments was a major HR concern (Caligiuri and Cascio, 1998). This is leading some Western organisations to break with tradition and consider women managers as candidates for international assignments.

In addition to women managers meeting a growing demand for international assignments, organisations are recognising that women managers may have personality and communication skills that are better suited to international assignments (Caligiuri and Cascio, 1998). Their non-aggressive and more subtle, process-oriented approach to business, it is argued, has a better fit with many non-Western cultures (Wah, 1998). But a paradox emerges.

If women managers possess the qualities that make them suited for international assignments, why is it that only 3 per cent of expatriate managers are women (Linehan and Walsh, 2000)? There are a number of possible reasons. The first possibility stems from a lack of organisational support and the continuing stereotyping and prejudice women may face from within their own organisation about their suitability for overseas responsibilities (Varma et al., 2001).

In addition, while organisations may be good at providing training in areas such as cultural sensitivity, they rarely address gender specific issues facing potential women expatriate managers (Wah, 1998). The second possibility revolves around the threat of hostility from host country male managers. The role of women in the host society may be viewed differently to that of the home country, e.g. women do not have a role to play in business (Linehan and Walsh, 2000; Owen and Scherer, 2002).

The third possible reason relates to the practical and emotional issues that seemingly face women expatriate managers, such as the ‘trailing male spouse’ who may have difficulty in adjusting to life overseas in his new role. In addition, there is the challenge of caring for and educating children in unfamiliar surroundings (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998). The final possible reason relates to the single woman manager. Here, the threat is of sexual harassment and possible exclusion from decision-making when business is done in male-dominated bars and clubs (Wah, 1998).

So what can be done to assist women managers faced with international assignments? In terms of development needs, the focus needs to be on helping women to cope with the cultural clashes and hostilities outlined above. Measures would include: the use of mentors, short visits to host countries to learn about attitudes to women managers and how to deal with them, preparing host countries to accept women managers (Caligiuri and Cascio, 1998; Wah, 1998).

  • International management development: a world tour?

In this section we will embark on a ‘world tour’ to explore the way managers are being developed in different countries. You will recall the point made earlier, that it is difficult to separate development approaches from the cultural, social and economic context in which they are located. This raises a number of issues, not least the problems associated with transferring Western models to other countries. This will become even clearer as the ‘tour’ progresses.

  • United States/United Kingdom

In respect of management development, both the USA and the UK are very similar in their approach. Management development is often viewed as a separate, discrete and heavily individualised activity, aimed at correcting identified ‘weaknesses’ in skills and knowledge or ‘deviances’ in individual attitudes and behaviour (Mumford, 1997). In essence, development approaches are dominated by a powerful rational-functional philosophy, which views the main justification for any development programme as being its direct contribution to business strategy and organisational performance. In other words, the view is that management development must add value to the business and maintain competitiveness in the face of environmental threats (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998; Thomson et al., 2001).

Increasingly, the aim is to develop generalist managerial rather than narrow specialist skills to improve mobility and the ability to take on new assignments and challenges – especially in a global environment (Heisler and Benham, 1992). Development has often been synonymous with management education and/or short, intensive training courses. For example, both countries now focus attention on competence-based approaches.

In the UK such approaches are institutionalised and championed through initiatives such as the Management Charter Initiative (see the earlier discussion on competency-based development, found on pages 377–9). However, as we have seen in this chapter, there is now a growing emphasis on more holistic, contextual, work-based forms of development that are experientially based, e.g. action learning projects, coaching and mentoring (Vicere, 1998).

  • Europe

In contrast to the Anglo-Saxon model described above, many continental European approaches have in the past been less concerned with management development as a discrete activity. In France, for example, the development of managers is linked more closely to its social and historical context. Rather than management being something that can be explicitly developed in individuals, it is perceived as ‘more a state of being’ (Lawrence, 1992).

Those who become managers form part of a social elite (cadre), and much of their development begins within the higher education institutions (grandes écoles), where the study of natural sciences and mathematics predominates. However, concerns are now being expressed about the ethnocentrism and insularity that is permeating French business schools (grandes écoles de commerce), creating structural and cultural barriers to a wider system of management education that is adapted to global market situations (Kumar and Usunier, 2001).

In Germany, the approach to development is much more functional, with specialist expertise, especially in engineering and science, being closely linked to the vocational system of education built around the concept of ‘Technik’ and the production of ‘Technikers’ – technical experts who dominate in management (Randlesome, 2000). As in France, the concept of management is not considered as something to be seen as separate, but more as part of the overall functional system within the organisation. Managers have less mobility than in the USA/UK, tending to stay in their functional role much longer.

In terms of the content of management development activity, there is less perceived need for generalist skills development and generalist business education such as that represented by the MBA, which in the past has been ‘regarded with great suspicion’ (Randlesome, 2000). Discrete management development activity is seen as less salient, and does not flourish to the same extent (Lawrence, 1992). Where management development is carried out it is mainly in-house (Thomson et al., 2001). For instance, German managers tend to favour ‘structured learning situations with precise objectives, detailed assignments and strict timetables’ (Hill, 1994).

Despite their relatively weak tradition and the problem of ‘cultural insularity’ in terms of management development, France, Germany and other European countries are beginning to establish institutions specifically aimed at developing managers. For example, despite past reservations, there has been a growth of MBA activity in both Germany and France (Easterby-Smith, 1992; Randlesome, 2000). In major German companies such as Siemens and BMW there is a greater awareness of the importance of managerial competencies (Randlesome, 2000) and in France there is a belated emergence of US-style business schools (Hill, 1994; Kumar and Usunier, 2001).

Another important influence on management development is the increasing monetary, economic and social convergence and cooperation across the European Union. This has focused attention on the ‘Europeanisation’ of management and, more recently, on how to develop what might be termed the Euro-manager. This is seen by some as an essential requirement if Europe is to be properly equipped to fend off the competitive challenges posed by global markets (Tijmstra and Casler, 1992).

However, some take a more cautious view. Hilb (1992) argues that there are major disparities in selection, appraisal and reward systems across Europe, and that management development is neither strategically oriented nor properly evaluated. Additionally, HRD practices in general are too heavily influenced by variations in national labour markets, cultures and legislative frameworks.

Kakabadse and Myers (1995), studying 959 chief executives in Europe, found wide variations in terms of management orientation across a number of criteria that are predicted to have implications for management development. For Thornhill (1993), any move towards Europeanisation raises significant issues for management trainers, who have to contend with variations over job content, context, expectations, experiences and work-related values. Hilb (1992) reports the following statistics to illustrate the variation in approaches to development:

  • Job rotation is used in 32% of Italian firms but only 8% of French.
  • Career high-fliers are identified in 44% of French firms but only 22% of German.
  • Assessment centres are used in 22% of UK firms but only 3% of Norwegian.
  • In Swiss organisations 66% of promotions are internal but only 31% in Danish.

Thurley and Wirdenhuis (1991) also point to these cultural and other national variations, arguing that the concept of the Euro-manager will be relevant only in certain industrial contexts. Storey (1992) identifies managerial parochialism and the lack of a European ‘mindset’ as a barrier, concluding that:

The notion of the Euro-manager may not quite be a myth but the extent to which there is a clear conceptual and practical difference between this species and the international manager is open to question.

  • Far East

In the past, considerable attention was focused on the prowess of Japanese (and more recently, Korean and Taiwanese) management practices in attaining organisational success in a global marketplace. This success may have as much to do with social and cultural factors as the ways in which Japanese managers are developed, since the two are inextricably linked. For Japanese managers, the experience of development is much more likely to be a long-term affair rather than the short-term, ‘sink-or-swim’ approach that characterises development in Western, Anglo-Saxon countries.

In Japan there is a strong foundation of individual loyalty to the organisation, and an emphasis on providing job security for employees. The approach to development is likely to be much more systematic, structured and carefully planned (Neelankavil, 1992). Whereas Anglo-Saxon models stress individualism and development through short, intensive bursts of training to prepare managers for assignments characterised by challenge and risk, Japanese development programmes are longer and more culturally reflective in focusing on collectivism and group/team effort.

The influence of role models is also strong. Unlike the USA/UK, where management development is in the hands of specialists, the Japanese view the relationship between the individual and the boss as a significant factor in developing the manager. The aim is to nurture growth, loyalty, commitment and retention (Storey et al., 1991). In China there is a massive shortage of managers with global management skills.

Management training has therefore become a national imperative as the country opens itself up to global markets and Western capitalism: ‘There is a pressing need for a class of professional managers in China capable of facing the challenges of a market economy’ (Chak-Ming Wo and Pounder, 2000). However, as with other countries, China has experienced the problems of discrepancies between the models of Western management development and Chinese culture and society.

For example, many imported Western models of management development are based on techniques such as group discussion and classroom participation, with an emphasis on reflection and abstract reasoning and a free and open critique and challenging of ideas and assumptions. Such techniques are often in conflict with Chinese culture where there is a strong emphasis on collective ideals, conformity, social status, the need to preserve ‘face’ and self-esteem, an unchallenged acceptance of the ‘expert’ and associative rather than abstract reasoning. All of these cultural factors, it is argued, tend to militate against the adoption of Western models (Bu and Mitchell, 1992; Cumber et al., 1994).

In the past, this has led to a preference for more didactic development methods such as formal management courses. In the past experiential methods were almost unheard of (Kirkbride and Tang, 1992). But more recently there are signs that Chinese managers are becoming more receptive to Western approaches as their own approaches to management education prove too basic and focused on technical skills rather than the softer skills required to manage in complex global enterprises (Chak-Ming Wo and Pounder, 2000).

In Hong Kong, Western management education and know-how have been much in demand as managers in Hong Kong seek the adaptive, flexible skills and knowledge required to handle the challenges of the Confucian, bureaucratic, centralising society of the PRC (Chong et al., 1993). More recently, the economy of Hong Kong has had to cope with an unprecedented economic downturn in the Far East in recent years that has forced them to shed labour and rationalise their organisational structures. This has posed a further challenge for management development, especially in how to develop managers to deal with the human resource issues raised by such events.

  • Central and Eastern Europe

The main force driving the development of managers in countries such as Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania is the rapid transition from a centrally planned to a market-based economy and more recently to some of them attaining membership of the EU. However, as Vecsenyi (1992) observes in relation to development in these countries, there are no ‘road maps’ in respect of management development, and it is often carried out in an atmosphere of crisis.

The strategy in the past has been to import readymade Western models to provide know-how and practical skills. In Russia, for example, management education is booming, and demand massively outstrips supply as the country struggles to adapt to major economic, social and political upheavals. However, in a number of cases Western models have been found wanting as they have failed to adapt to local economic, political and social conditions (Kwiatkowski and Kozminski, 1992).

For instance, when faced with the problems of backward technology and hyperinflation, Bulgarian managers said that what they wanted was emergency solutions to pressing problems, not grandiose views about longer-term strategy (Hollingshead and Michailova, 2001). Western ‘recipes for success’ may therefore be accused of failing because they do not take into account the context confronting them, they lack strategic credibility, and they have not responded to the variations in learning styles of Eastern European managers (Lee, 1995; Redman et al., 1995a; Hollingshead and Michailova, 2001).

Taking a pessimistic outlook, therefore, Western-oriented business schools may be accused of contributing to rampant capitalism and engendering resentment. But if they can adapt they may contribute positively to a more sophisticated economic infrastructure, changing social attitudes, and new forms of political decision-making (Puffer, 1993). This is confirmed by recent research which suggests that Western approaches are more effective if they can be customised to meet local needs.

For example, in a recent study of management training in Central and Eastern Europe, Gobell et al. (1998) found that when Western trainers took the time to understand their needs, Central and Eastern European managers were as receptive as their US counterparts to open discussion and debate. This was viewed as a welcome change from the ‘brute force lectures’ they had previously endured as students!

  • Africa

Over the whole of Africa, there are considerable variations in approaches to management development and these reflect the different stages of economic, social, cultural and political development across different regions. South Africa, for example, has undergone massive social and political upheaval in recent years. However, the key issue now currently confronting the country is how to use management development as a tool to overcome major societal gulfs in respect of the disadvantaged black majority and the well-educated white minority (Templer et al., 1992). Recent research indicates that fewer than 5 per cent of blacks occupy managerial posts (McFarlin et al., 1999).

The argument therefore is for the need to ‘South Africanise’ development through a more holistic, integrative approach that unifies the country by providing and sharing opportunities. Some progress has been made; for instance, the introduction of a strategy of educating black managers, coaching them and then allowing them to practise their management skills in the workplace. But problems can emerge when existing organizational structures and cultures are denying black managers access to the practical opportunities to apply those newly acquired skills.

This has led to powerful arguments for a policy of ‘aggressive affirmative’ action in which the percentage of black managers more closely reflects the population mix (McFarlin et al., 1999).But is aggressive affirmative action enough? McFarlin et al. argue for the need to develop new management styles that are embedded in an African cultural context. They point to the concept of Ubuntu as the basis for development.

Ubuntu is a metaphor for life that stresses support, sharing, community and solidarity that in the past has been essential to survive the harshness of African life. Within this philosophy, management development is premised on the introduction of collective, participative approaches; teaching managers how to build trust, bonding and solidarity with employees and each other while at the same time seeking to mesh with the imperatives of Western materialism.

Such approaches have worked well in organisations such as South African Airways where policies towards customer care are meshed with the notion of managers and employees seeing themselves as part of an extended African family. These arguments made by McFarlin et al. and others reinforce the point made earlier in this chapter about the need to manage development as well as doing it – in other words, focusing on those social, structural and cultural barriers that ‘interfere with development’ (Doyle, 1995, 2000a).

By way of contrast to South Africa, in less developed regions such as Eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) there is a different set of challenges facing management development. Here, the problem is centred on the economic underdevelopment of the region creating a huge disparity between ‘the African reality and the application of imported theories’ (Mitiku and Wallace, 1999).

Management development approaches are largely geared towards the imperatives of trying to govern or manage donor-aid from institutions such as the World Bank. But this focus, however well intentioned, may be robbing the region of essential wealth-creating skills required to lift the area out of poverty. The need therefore according to Mitiku and Wallace is to refocus management development at a more local level – building on successful examples of enterprise while lowering the costs of training to local entrepreneurs.

To conclude this review of international management development, you have seen that there is a considerable and growing interest in developing the skills and mindsets of the ‘global’ or ‘international’ manager. There is also a desire by many countries across the world to import Western (mainly Anglo-Saxon) conceptions and models of management development and to utilise them as powerful tools in their quest for social and economic transformation and renewal.

However, you will also have noted that, although Western models are considered by many to be dominant across the world, efforts to import them by different countries have not been entirely successful. This reinforces a point made earlier, that there is growing evidence to suggest that management development cannot easily be removed or separated from the wider cultural, social, political and economic context in which it is embedded (Hansen and Brooks, 1994).

It therefore becomes clear that just as in the UK national context, any international development policy, activity or programme is likely to be more effective if it is made contingent upon the unique set of circumstances that confront it and proactive efforts are made to manage that context. However, such a perspective of development sets new challenges for those professionals involved in developing international managers.

  • The progression and development of women managers

There is now overwhelming evidence to suggest that women are generally under-represented in UK management, but measuring the extent of this under-representation has not been easy. The problem rests mainly with comparisons between different interpretations of the term ‘manager’ – defined in terms of work content and scope of responsibility (Davidson and Burke, 1994). In 1989 it was estimated that 44 per cent of the UK labour force were women (this proportion was forecast to rise to some 50 per cent by the year 2000 and has now gone slightly above 50 per cent), and yet only 11 per cent of UK general management were women (Davidson, 1991).

At chief executive level the picture was even bleaker, with only 1 per cent of senior management positions occupied by women (Davidson and Cooper, 1992). More recent evidence seems to suggest an improving picture, with the proportion of women ‘managers’ now approaching some 26 per cent of the managerial workforce (Vinnicombe and Colwill, 1995). However, this figure appears to include all levels of management. Closer examination reveals a less rosy picture.

Estimates vary, but it would seem that for middle managers the proportion is still around 8–10 per cent of the managerial workforce (Woodall and Winstanley, 1998). And in respect of senior management positions, the situation has hardly improved at all since the 1980s. For example, a 1995 survey of some 300 enterprises in the UK revealed that only 3 per cent of board directors were women, and in another cited study of 100 major companies it was estimated that only 4 per cent of directors were women (International Labour Organization, 1997). It would seem that the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ is proving to be stubbornly unbreakable at the higher levels of UK management.

There are a number of explanations cited for the increasing, albeit slowly, proportion of women managers in Western organisations. These include: better educational attainment; better access to training opportunities; and the removal of the more overt forms of gender discrimination in the workplace that have deterred or prevented women from entering management in the past (Larwood and Wood, 1995; Lewis and Fagenson, 1995). But there is less cause for celebration when we examine more closely the type of work that women managers are doing. Traditionally, women have suffered a degree of ghettoising in terms of their managerial roles.

For example, women managers are concentrated mainly in the banking, retail and catering industries, at the lower managerial levels, and in the ‘softer’ areas such as personnel and customer service. It would appear that progress out of the ghetto into more front-line, business-focused roles is a slow process (Ohlott et al., 1994). Research also suggests a risk that women managers may find themselves caught in a vicious circle.

Their very success in these softer roles may serve to stereotype them and encourage organisations to retain them in these roles. Where efforts are made to move them into front-line positions without adequate development there is a risk of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example,

  • What are the factors inhibiting the development of women managers?

Woodall and Winstanley (1998) argue that forging a successful career in management is more difficult for women because it involves them having to jump through a series of ‘hoops’. They have to:

  • enter management at an early age;
  • already have appropriate management qualifications;
  • have experience or rapidly gain experience in functions that are seen to be core to the organisation;
  • be continuously employed;
  • work long hours and conform to the organisation’s age-related concept of career;
  • be geographically mobile (see the preceding discussion regarding the development of women as international managers);
  • conform to promotion criteria (which will invariably be determined in a male-oriented way).

As Woodall and Winstanley remark, ‘Thus it should not be surprising that women find career progress more difficult than most of their male counterparts’ .
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