Kessels, J., & Harrison, R. (1998). External Consistency: The Key to Success in Management Development Programmes? Management Learning, 29(1), 39–68.
This paper focuses on factors influencing the effectiveness of corporate education programmes—those seeking to achieve a positive impact on organizational as welt as individual leaming. The authors report on two recent studies. They examine the first— covering 31 educational programmes in The Netherlands—to identify factors influencing the design, quality and effects of corporate education. They apply the conceptual framework thus derived to the second—a development pro gramme for clinical directors working in the UK National Health Service—in order to explore initial propositions. Theirfindings suggest that ‘extemal consistency’ (shared and coherentperceptions between key stakeholders as to the goals and interventions appropriate for a programme) is the primary determinant of success for formal programmes; that a relational and systematic approach in curriculum development has a major part to play in achieving such consistency; and that extemal consistency is of particular importance in developmental programmes for managers whose roles have a significant strategie component. The paper offers a conceptual framework and empirical data related to the effectiveness of an integrated systematic and relational approach in the design of formal programmes. lts conclusions offer encouragement for the further development of validated prescriptive theories about corporate education.