In a review of corporate ‘best practice’ within management development programs, James and Burgoyne (2001) identified a range of published case examples of organizations that concentrated less on formal training and significantly more towards the development of the next generation of leaders through action learning projects and senior leaders teaching and mentoring (similarly echoed by Fulmer & Wagner, 1999; Burgoyne et al., 2004).
The effectiveness of these activities to the development of leadership is equivocal (Burgoyne et al., 2004). Burgoyne et al. comment that:
[t]he large proportion of the literature and reports on management and leadership development is not, to any significant degree, evidence based. Where it is, it is so in a relatively weak form … that which is done within organizations driven by their own policies and plans … gives us confidence to say that management and leadership development can have beneficial effects.
In essence, Burgoyne et al. reflect the discussion of best practice intervention that seeks to anchor effectiveness not necessarily into return on investment measures, but rather into measurement oriented towards organizational needs, most prominently that associated with an organization’s strategy (Fulmer & Wagner, 1999; James & Burgoyne, 2001; Ready & Conger, 2003). In contrast, an emphasis that formal management development is a good thing is argued by Watson and Wyatt (2000):