chapter  4
14 Pages

The Concept of a Developmental Community: The Research Challenge

When the idea of conducting research investigations collaboratively between the Tavistock Institute and the College was first mooted, it was clear that there might be a number of possible ways of approach. One could concentrate on the College, on managerial roles in the client firms, on members' careers and personal development patterns, and so on. One could attempt an experimental comparison between the effects of the College and the effects of some other training experience or of no training experience; or one could simply describe what happened as it appeared to all of the parties concerned without exact control groups. One could concentrate on a critical ‘audit’ of the College’s work in relation to its goals, or one could focus on growth points in an era in which many changes are under way. Our decisions were based partly on what we would have considered desirable from a research point of view - both methodologically and substantively - and partly on necessity. Control groups are an attractive research idea, but methodologically have serious limitations for a study such as this. Desirable though we would have considered it, for example, to have a controlled comparison between the effects of Henley and of other training experiences of comparable groups of managers, this was simply not feasible at the time. Many of the firms sending men to Henley did not have comparable men whom they did not send. Furthermore, desirable as it might have been to compare men sent to Henley with similar men who underwent different kinds of training programmes, this was simply not on the cards at the time the research was initiated, because the basis for such comparisons did not then exist. Perhaps in the next stage of research such controlled comparisons could be achieved.