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Management Development and Co-production: myths and realities

Fenwick, John; McMillan, Janice


John Fenwick


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to address the relationship between public sector practitioners and academic providers in the design and delivery of management development programmes. What is the added value of HEI involvement in management development and does this intervention generate knowledge that could not be produced by the organisation alone? This paper offers a critical discussion of the concept of mutual co-production, arguing that management development programmes may address the organisational needs of clients, or those of providers, without necessarily representing creative and consensual co-creation.
Design/methodology/approach – Discussion is drawn from qualitative interviews in Scotland and England with academics providing management development programmes, together with managers from two public sector organisations. Initial interviews carried out in 2011 were supplemented by additional interviews with academic providers in 2012.
Findings – Management development programmes may serve primarily to address the internal objectives of client organisations and academic providers alike. True co-creation requires timescales and relationships of trust that need to be built over time.
Practical implications – Critical insight into the commercial relationship between providers and public organisations enables greater clarity about what the provider is selling and what the organisation is buying. This contributes to conceptual understanding of the management development relationship, and, moreover, to open and effective practice.
Originality/value – The paper critically addresses the management development relationship between client and provider and informs future practice and further research.


Fenwick, J., & McMillan, J. (2013). Management Development and Co-production: myths and realities. Journal of Management Development, 32, 971-983.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 21, 2013
Deposit Date May 26, 2015
Print ISSN 0262-1711
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Pages 971-983
Keywords Organisational development; Public sector organisations; Management development;
Public URL
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