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In increasingly competitive environments organizations are turning to their people as a means of creating or
sustaining competitive advantage. This trend is placing a greater focus on the role of human resource development
(HRD) within organizations. In addition, the increasing internationalization of markets has meant organizations are
no longer operating within the confines of one national context. The aim of this article is to examine how the French
and UK contexts, with their very different traditions of management training and education, have shaped
organizational approaches to HRD.

National context and training and development

There is a large body of evidence that suggests that organizational differences in human resource (HR) practices,
including training and development, are related to variations in national legislation and cultural frameworks of a
country[1-5]. For example, Shaw et al.[4] found that the Singapore Government takes a very interventionist
approach to HR, and training and development issues in particular. The existence of professional HR associations
and other pressure groups can also influence HR practices [6,7]. As such, the national context is a primary factor
which must not be ignored in the examination of determinants of training and development activity.

Perhaps one of the biggest factors influencing training and development is the labour market in which organizations
operate and the level of training and skills available in that market. In this respect France and the UK differ
markedly[8]. Different educational systems play an important role in the shape of training and development systems
in different countries[9]. It is argued that educational systems shape the skills and knowledge of the workforce, who
in turn shape the training systems as a result of their requirements for training and their career aspirations[10]. The
following sections examine how the UK and France differ in terms of educational infrastructure, particularly with
respect to management, and government action on workforce


The UK context

In the UK the lack of training has been well documented[11,12]. Indeed, the UK’s poor competitiveness abroad has
frequently been linked with a low level of national training and the need for a more progressive attitude towards
training and development[13,14]. The level of formal qualifications held in the UK is significantly lower than that
of other advanced economies[15-17]. In a well documented report by the British Institute of Management entitled
The Making of British Managers[18] the discrepancies in qualification levels are highlighted. This low level of
formal qualifications and skill shortages has been blamed on a number of institutional constraints, in particular the
low levels of management education and training activity[19,20]. This has been coupled with the fact that
employers fail to see benefits or, in some cases, the relevance of training and still perceive it very much as a cost

Further figures on training in the UK were produced via the National Training Survey, the most comprehensive of
its kind, conducted by Deloitte, Haskins and Sells and IFF Research. It was estimated 14.4 billion was spent on
training in the UK during 1986/87, although evaluation of training effectiveness was limited. Interestingly, many
companies did not perceive on-the-job training via coaching as a form of training. More recent figures have shown
that 55-63 per cent of employees received training in 1991 which compares with 48 per cent in 1986/87[22]. This
increase in training activity was also reported by Warr[23] in a study carried out for the Institute of Management.
However, despite an improvement in training efforts the World Economic Forum Survey 1992 rated the UK last out
of 22 countries in terms of in-company training investment and fourth last out of 22 for senior management

Title: A comparison of HRD in France and the UK
Author(s): Francoise Dany and Olga Tregaskis
Source: Journal of European Industrial Training. 20.1 (Jan. 1996): p20.
Document Type: Article

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 1996 Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd.

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The study conducted by Handy, The Making of British Managers[25], was a response to the growing concern about
the nature of management training in the UK in comparison with other nations. Their finding included the fact that
management training and education was perceived as a perk as opposed to a necessary requirement. Handy[26]
identified three routes for the training and development of managers in the UK – the corporate route, the academic
route and the professional route. The corporate route concentrates on the development of managers through
company specific training programmes. Potential managers join companies when young and with limited or no
formal management qualifications. The route is restrictive in terms of functional experience and a lack of formal
recognition of training experienced outside the organization and may be increasingly difficult to sustain as the job
for “life” syndrome comes to play a much smaller part in our economies. The academic approach follows the US
model where potential managers seek a specific formally recognized management qualification either at
undergraduate level or at post-experience level, perhaps in the form of a Masters in Business Administration
(MBA). The problem with this approach is that in the UK there is a strong perception that such training is, in most
instances, remote from real business life and as such it is undervalued. Finally, the professional approach involves
the attainment of qualifications awarded by a professional body while working. The most prestigious professional
institutes in managerial circles tend to be the institutes of accountants. The problem with such an approach is that
the exams taken are usually not designed as a general management qualification, even when they are used as such.

This work has been important in highlighting the approach the UK takes to management training and education and
the implications it has for organizations recruiting the product of such a system. It has also been important in
shaping the role of government intervention discussed below.

Government intervention – UK

In recent years the Government has placed an emphasis on the whole area of training and skill development. Some
would argue that the approach has been heavily interventionist[24]. Other commentators suggest Government action
has been merely cosmetic. In essence there are three parts to current Government policy:

1 to promote good practice via a number of initiatives, e.g. Investors in People (IIP);

2 to alter the method of delivering government support at local level via Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) in
England and Local Enterprise Councils (LECs) in Scotland;

3 to reform the national system of vocational qualifications by imposing a competence-based approach.

All of these have important implications for organizational-based management training. Best practice is currently
being promoted through three channels. First, the Government are backing the Management Charter Initiative
(MCI). This developed from the initiative of the Confederation of British Industry, the British Institute of
Management and the Foundation of Management Education. In 1988 the MCI launched a code of practice which
was heavily endorsed by the 1988 White Paper Employment for the 1990s. Second, in 1987 the Government
launched the National Training Awards, which are a public stamp of approval gained by organizations for the
achievement of excellence in the field of training. Third, in 1991 the IIP standard was introduced which was another
Government seal of approval achieved for the alignment of training activity with business need[27]. Participation in
the above programmes is voluntary. However, by linking the awards to suggest best practice they are being seen as
another way of achieving competitive advantage, in the same way the BS 5750 standard has been used as criteria for
selecting one competitor over another. This places the onus informally on the organization without the use of formal

The delivery of training and funds for training has now changed and is channelled via the TECs/LECs. These bodies
fulfil two roles that have potential implications for training:

1 they are responsible for the promotion of such national schemes as IIP, operate as the local MCI networks and are
co-ordinators for NVQs;

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2 they promote local initiatives which can be relevant to the training of managers.

Third, the introduction of a competence-based approach to education. The impetus for Government action in this
area began in 1981 via the Manpower Services Commission which produced National Training Incentive: An
Agenda for Action. The focus of this document was the need for a flexible and adaptable workforce. This coincided
with interest in the training world in competences. Subsequently, the reform of qualifications became linked to
measuring effectiveness. The NVQ system is the responsibility of the National Council for Vocational
Qualifications (NCVQs), formed in 1986. The qualifications themselves are an attempt to link more closely
business and educational needs. The responsibility for developing industry-specific NVQs being with the lead body
for the industry. The MCI is the lead body for management NVQs. In 1994 there were seven awarding bodies
offering NVQs in management which are accredited by the NCVQ. It will, however, be some time before any
impact from these initiatives may become apparent.

The French context

To understand training and development it is important to understand some of the political, social and educational
traditions. Despite the extent of privatization which has taken effect in most western countries, France remains and
has always been one of the most centrally regulated democracies in Europe[28]. It was this notion of centralization
which led to the development of training establishments designed to produce the greatest intellects and engineers in
France to run the country. Those training establishments were called the Grande Ecoles. To understand the Grande
Ecoles system, we could refer to the creation of Polytechnique the most famous French school of engineering.

Polytechnique was founded in 1793, two years after the French Revolution. The aim was clear: to replace the
existing logic of “privileges” by a logic of “competence”[29]. In other words, the objective behind the creation of
Polytechnique was to promote the most successful students, even if they did not belong to the French bourgeoisie,
i.e. the families who ran business. Therefore the recruiting process of Polytechnique was carried out at a national
level. As Polytechnique was attached to the Ministry of Defence, although its vocation was to turn out both top
managers and engineers, the students had to pay. Some other Grande Ecoles d’ingenieurs were created on the same
model, also carrying out recruitment at a national level. All these schools contributed to defining a new way of
selecting and preparing the French elite. Holding a degree from a Grande Ecole gradually became a new source of
legitimacy in France for gaining access to the most prestigious positions. Following the emergence of the Grande
Ecoles d’ingenieurs, some others were founded such as the Grande Ecoles de Commerce (Graduate Schools of
Business), including the Ecoles Superieures de Commerce de Paris (ESCP) which was founded in 1820, the Ecoles
des Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC) founded in 1881. In the same way the Ecoles Nationale des
Administrations (I’ENA, elite postgraduate school training France’s top civil servants) was founded in 1945. These
prestigious schools sought to impose new ways of gaining access to power, stressing the development of different
profiles, the students not exclusively being selected on the basis of their “school knowledge”. According to
Bourdieu, the success of these schools lies in the fact that by placing great emphasis on the way to behave and not
only on knowledge, they facilitate the success of children from the bourgeoisie, hence supported by it[30]. In this
way, numerous business schools, namely the Ecole Superieure de Commerce et d’Administration des Entreprises
(ESCAE), were created by the desire to give value to the “social capital” of the students joining these institutions.
One specific feature of the business schools is that these institutions are private-owned and they charge fees.

All these schools operate according to a hierarchical system. This system reflects the nature of the students, the best
ones oriented towards the most famous schools. Consequently, initial training in France is extremely important.
Several studies conducted have focused on the determining role of the diploma over the career. It has been shown
that the gap between salaries, according to the nature of the diploma obtained, increased considerably throughout an
individual’s career[31]. Even if the increasing unemployment rate of higher education graduates leads us to consider
that the degree is no longer a sufficient prerequisite for success, nevertheless, the hierarchy within various degrees
remains present. In 1993, nearly half of the managers from the top 200 French companies held a degree obtained at
l’ENA[32]. More generally, holding a degree from a Grande Ecole or a university remains the main way to gain
responsibility within companies. These Grandes Ecoles are part of a general system which needs to be understood in
order to understand the calibre of the young graduate entering the French managerial world.

The structure of secondary education in France differs from the UK educational system. School is compulsory until
the age of 16. Around 90 per cent of the school population are state educated[33]. Primary school starts at the age of

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six. After five years of study, the students enter the college where the majority of them follow four years of study.
They take the Brevet des Colleges (School Certificate) before entering the Lycee for three years (secondary school).
Graduation from secondary school results in the Baccalaureat which provides the students with access to higher
education. The minority of students follow another path of orientation. They leave the general educational system
towards “professional education” and can take different exams, such as the Certificat d’Apitude Professionnelles or
CAP (vocational education certificate); the Brevet d’Etudes Professionnelles or BEP(technical school certificate);
the Baccalaureat Professionnel (vocational school leaving certificate). These diplomas can be taken in technical
secondary schools and also in training centres for apprentices. This second educational system is less prized than the
first one which is the only one enabling students to start a job at higher occupational levels.

The French Baccalaureat is the equivalent to the British “A” level although it is more rigorous and certainly more
valuable in terms of gaining access to further education. There is a wide range of areas in which students may take
the Baccalaureat exam, even if since this year, a certain number of Baccalaureat have been grouped together with a
view to simplifying the educational system. There is still a Baccalaureat S (mathematics and science), a
Baccalaureat L (literature), a Baccalaureat ES (economics) and also the Baccalaureat STT (tertiary science and
technology). For each of these exams, students can choose different modules. After having taken the Baccalaureat,
students can join higher education.

Higher education is provided along three main tracks; the Grandes Ecoles, the university and short training courses
given in Lycees and in some private schools. The last two are the most recent and consist of training courses of two
or three year’s teaching, where the graduates obtain the Brevet de Technicien Superieur or BTS (higher technical
diploma) or school certificate delivered by private schools and which is not recognized by the Education Nationale
(French Ministry of National Education). These studies only enable graduates to have access to positions as

The first two training courses epitomise the longest tradition in France. A new element in university training courses
is the creation of the Diplomes Universitaires de Technologie or DUT (technological university degrees) delivered
by the Instituts Universitaires de Technologie or IUT (higher technical university) after two years. They were set up
in response to middle management skill shortages and have a strong professional vocation. They can be
distinguished from other university courses on the basis of the strength they grant to the courses and to operational
teaching. French society took a long time to acknowledge these institutes. However, their reputation is gaining
ground and the main difficulty faced by the holders of these degrees concerns their career path in the long term: if
young graduates do not have any difficulty in finding a job, their opportunities of evolution within companies are
not always clearly defined.

The best way to have access to management remains the long general courses, be it the teaching given in
universities or by the Grandes Ecoles. Several kinds of degrees are offered by universities; the DEUG which is the
Diplome d’Etudes Universitaires Generales (diploma awarded after the first two years of university education); the
Licence (Bachelor, awarded after three years of studies) and the Maitrise (Master, postgraduate degree awarded
after four years of study). Following this there are a range of university postgraduate degrees available, such as the
Diplome d’Etudes Superieures Specialisees or DESS (university postgraduate professional degree), the Diplome
d’Etudes Approfondies or DEA (university postgraduate research degree) and the Doctorat (PhD). The educational
system for entering the Grandes Ecoles is highly selective. A large number of the students take two or three years of
study to prepare their entrance exam. Other students come from the university. Nowadays, the Grandes Ecoles
provide graduates for both the public and private sectors. If the first feature of the Grandes Ecoles is to endow the
potential manager with the necessary mental and physical stamina, to train him/her to handle complex situations and
assimilate knowledge, they also provide him/her with management skills and knowledge in the areas of finance,
accounting or marketing. One of the current orientations of higher education in France exemplified by the success of
the Grandes Ecoles de Commerce is to remain close to companies’ concerns. This is particularly well illustrated by
the use of apprenticeships, even for higher education. For instance, students from the Ecole Superieure de Sciences
Economiques et Commerciales or ESSEC (French school of business and economics), ranking among the top four
business schools, operate sandwich courses, i.e. parttime school and work.

If the training systems are evolving in France, one feature which is getting stronger is the extension of the length of
the studies. De facto, the main way to have access to executive positions (i.e. cadre) in big companies is to come
from a Grande Ecole or hold at least a Master’s degree, which has considerable impact on in-company management

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The term cadre is used to refer to senior, middle or junior management. An engineer or an expert belongs to this
category. This term was initially used to classify a new socio-professional category consisting of engineers or of
people who have responsibilities of the same level. This category was set up by the Accords Parodi in 1947. The
purpose was for executives to assert their position and status within society. The cadre status finally gained high
value socially speaking and there has been a proliferation of groups and professions now using this term[34-35].
Even if the working conditions of executives (remuneration, type of responsibilities) become less and less specific
and if many observers, such as the sociologist Crozier, say that today the status no longer corresponds to any
objective reality, many employees and students wish to benefit from this status.

Of course, there are two ways of getting the cadre status. The second way is to obtain this status through promotion
within the company. At least three ways of internal promotion were identified[36]. But this is less common,
especially in big companies. Statistics from the Agence pour l’Emploi des Cadres or APEC (French Executive
Employment Association) show that France is the EC country which recruits the highest number of young graduates
to executive positions; 31 per cent of executive positions were filled by graduates in 1993 and 44 per cent of the 25-
34 year-olds obtained the status when they took their first job. Moreover, the second way can often mean that the
executive title is specific to the company. The outcome of this different selection system is that two groups of
executives are often perceived; those with academic credentials and those without, neither of whom have little
respect for each other[33].

Government intervention – France

It was during the 1980s that public attitude towards wealth creation became more positive[33,37]. This period of
time has also been marked by the introduction of social acts referred to as les lois Auroux and by the increase in
privatization. This brought the French more in line with European countries. State intervention in the field of
training was, however, older. It was in 1971 that the French Government intervened to re-evaluate training in
companies and to re-balance the weight of initial training. During the first stage, only the companies with more than
ten employees were legally compelled to spend a specified percentage of the annual payroll on training (1.5 per cent
in 1994), or pay an equivalent sum in tax of which 30 per cent usually goes on the cadre[33]. Companies are also
required to draw up a training scheme in consultation with works councils (comites d’entreprises). Today, even
small companies numbering less than ten employees are obliged to have a budget devoted to training. However, the
budget amounts to 0.15 per cent of the payroll.

It is argued that this has had a favourable effect on increasing awareness of an investment in training relative to
other countries[38]. But the introduction of this directive did not initially have the impact intended. During the early
years, companies viewed the levy as a tax burden. Therefore, training budgets were frequently used as reward
mechanisms. However, attitudes have changed[39-41].

National context – conclusions

The literature shows quite clearly that the educational traditions in France and the UK are as divergent as cultural
attitudes and institutional frameworks. For example, the emphasis the French place on qualifications and intellect
contrasts starkly with the emphasis placed on experience and background in the UK. This attitude is reflected very
much in the different educational systems and routes to management outlined above. Both countries have, however,
experienced some form of government intervention with regard to company specific training, although the nature of
this intervention is quite different. The French have taken a legislative approach while the British have taken a
voluntary approach, although it could be argued pressure exists nevertheless.

In addition, both French and UK organizations seem to experience the same pressure to link training activity more
closely with organizational needs. In France, this is being promoted via the training plan and in the UK via IIP.
Therefore, French and UK organizations are facing the similar challenge to make the most of the potential that
exists. Using data from the Price Waterhouse Cranfield survey, this article examines the extent to which French and
UK organizations converge or diverge in terms of their actual training and development activity.

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The data is drawn from the Price Waterhouse Cranfield survey of strategic human resource management in
organizations employing 200 or more people. This research has collected data on human resource issues from
approximately 20,000 organizations in 19 European countries from 1989-1995. Data was collected from human
resource/personnel directors.

The sample was broadly representative of the national sectoral distribution within each country[5]. However, as
with many surveys of this nature the sample was over-representative of larger organizations (i.e. organizations
employing 1,000 plus).

For the purposes of this article data from the 1992 survey covering the UK and France has been extracted for
secondary analysis. The sample consists of 1,894 organizations. This includes 1,243 from the UK and 651 from


The data for the Price Waterhouse Cranfield survey was collected using a self report questionnaire. This focused on
facts and figures regarding the HR practices currently operating within an organization as opposed to attitudinal
data. The questionnaire was developed in multinational teams of academics working in the field of HR.
Questionnaires were translated into the relevant national language and piloted with human resource/personnel
managers (for further details of questionnaire development and methodology see Brewster and Hegewisch[5].
Questionnaires were retranslated back into English, the language of the pre-pilot questionnaire, to ensure
consistency of meaning across countries[42-44].

Training and development measures

A total of 35 questionnaire indicators were used to measure various dimensions of organizational training and
development activity. These covered six broad areas as follows:

1 organization commitment to training in terms of finance and days training per occupational group per year;

2 training programmes conducted, such as management training on performance appraisals or job rotation;

3 methods adopted for training needs evaluation such as training audits or employee requests;

4 methods used to evaluate the effectiveness of training such as formal evaluations immediately after training or the
use of informal feedback from trainees;

5 career development systems that are adopted, such as the use of formal career plans or annual career development

6 the integration of training with other HR systems, such as the use of training and qualifications details for
workforce planning; training new employees to aid recruitment; or the role of line management compared with the
HR department in developing training policy.

Two organizational detail measures were adopted namely sector type and organizational size. (For full details of the
questionnaire items used see Table I.)

Statistical procedures

Discriminant function analysis (DFA)

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In order to identify the training measures on which French and UK organizations significantly differed the
multivariate statistical procedure DFA was adopted. The independent variable was country (i.e. UK or France) and
the 35 questionnaire items listed in Table I were used as dependent variables. All dependent variables were coded
zero and one with the exception of expenditure on training, average training days per occupational group and size of
organization which remained as continuous data. As it was suspected that the size of an organization and its industry
type could have an influence on organizational training practices these were controlled for by inclusion as
dependent variables in the analysis. A listwise as opposed to a pairwise treatment of missing data was adopted. This
was because the training expenditure and training days variables had a high proportion of missing data. In fact those
failing to answer this question indicated the reason to be that they did “not know” as opposed to having simply
missed the question out. Therefore, to exclude these variables from the analysis would mean the exclusion of very
important and relevant predictors of national context. This is particularly the case given the extent of legislation in
France covering training expenditure. In contrast, inclusion of these items based on a pairwise selection basis would
have meant a sample highly biased in favour of organizations which kept details on training expenditure and days
training per employee. For these reasons, cases with missing data were felt valid for analysis.


The DFA found 32 of the 35 variables entered into the analysis to be significant predictors of organizational
context. In other words, French and UK organizations were found to have significantly different practices on most
of the training variables measured. The predictive ability of the solution was high with 94 per cent of the UK
organizations being correctly classified by the DFA solution and 79 per cent of the French organizations.

The summary statistics shown in Table II indicate that overall the DFA solution was found to account for 66 per
cent variance[45]. The standard coefficients (Table III) indicate the relative importance of each variable as a
predictor of group membership. As such, the results show the most important predictors of country training
practices are: retraining existing employees to aid recruitment, expenditure on training, language training, line
management requests as a means of identifying training need, the use of annual career development interviews and
performance appraisal.


Table II

DFA summary table


Eigenvalue 1.272

Canonical correlation 0.7482

Wilk’s lambda 0.4401

Chi-square 1,539.56

Degrees of freedom 32

Significance 0.001

The size of an organization and its industry sector were found to be significant predictors. Organizations in the UK
tended to be larger, the manufacturing/production sector was smaller and the proportion of service and public sector
was larger compared with the French sample (Table IV). However, the coefficients indicate their relative
importance as predictor variables to be very weak. Therefore, it can be deduced that differences in training are not
merely a reflection of industry sector preference for certain management tools or the impact of the size of the

Table V shows how the French and UK organizations are different or similar on each of the training indicators
measured. These are discussed in detail in the next section.


In terms of commitment to training, the results showed a significant difference between UK and French

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organizations on all but one of the indictors adopted. On average UK organizations spent approximately 1.71 per
cent of the annual salaries and wages bill on training. This compared with 3.83 per cent spent by French
organizations. It may be that the legislation in France has had an important role to play in creating such large
differences in expenditure[38]. French organizations consistently reported, on average, a higher number of days
training for management, technical/professional and clerical staff. This was not so for manual workers. Both
countries reported increasing numbers of days training with increasing occupational hierarchy. Therefore, in the UK
managers received on average three days training per year compared with manual staff who received one-and-a-half
days. In France, managers received nearly four day’s training on average compared with two days for manual staff.
If day’s training and expenditure on training are considered indicators of organizational commitment to training,
then the results suggest French organizations to be more committed than those in the UK. However, [TABULAR
DATA FOR TABLE III OMITTED] this must be balanced with the fact that these indicators say nothing about the
quality of the training nor the relevance of the training to organizational needs. Another explanation of these results
could be that in French organizations training is still used as a reward mechanism[33] or that French companies
used more formal training mechanisms rather than informal ones, such as working with other qualified people.

Table IV

Sector and size breakdown of sample

Organizational details

Manufacturing/production (per cent) 47 61

Service (per cent) 28 22

Public (per cent) 25 17

Size of organization 5,216 4,741

(i.e. number of employees)

Both France and the UK differed significantly on all measured methods of training needs’ evaluation. In the UK the
most common method of identifying training needs was found to be through the use of the performance appraisal. In
France this was the third most common approach. Line management requests for training in response to a need was
the more common approach adopted. In the UK employee requests was the least reported method used, while in
France it was the second most common approach. Thus there is quite clearly a marked difference in preferences for
training needs identification. In both the UK and France, training audits were adopted the least. This may be due to
the greater investment in both people and financial resources required by this approach in comparison to the
alternative methods examined. The mean scores for each of these training needs measures also indicate that while
multiple methods are adopted there is a single approach which dominates. In the UK this is performance appraisal
and in France it is the use of line management requests.

Evaluation of training effectiveness was found to be more widespread among UK organizations than the French.
The only exception was with regard to the use of formal evaluation immediately after training, for which there was
no difference between France and the UK. Both countries showed [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE V OMITTED]
the relatively widespread use of evaluation methods. Informal feedback from line managers was the most common
approach; followed by informal feedback from the trainees themselves; formal evaluation immediately after
training; formal evaluation some months after training; and least used was tests. Evaluation has traditionally been an
area where implementation has been weak[46]. The evidence would thus suggest that evaluation of training remains
at the informal subjective level.

The focus of training programmes for France and the UK were found to differ quite markedly. Management training
programmes in specific areas such as communication skills or team building were found to be significantly more
common among UK organizations than the French. This may be a result of the pre-management education received
by French managers via the Grandes Ecoles. Alternatively, it may be due to different perceptions of the
management role and as such the most appropriate training response. The most widespread form of management
training adopted in the UK was training in performance appraisals. This is perhaps appropriate given the emphasis
placed on this technique as a means of training needs identification. The focus the French place on “high flier”
schemes in comparison with the UK is apparent, with this being the third most common form of training programme
in France but the sixth most common in the UK. There is also a notable difference in the emphasis placed on foreign
language training (more common in UK organizations). Training for women returners, international exchanges and
job rotation were found to be the least common training programmes adopted, though all more common in the UK

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than France.

In terms of systems in place to assist career development the results showed formal career plans to be the least
common approach, in both countries, although used more in the UK than in France. In the UK performance
appraisals again featured as the most common approach adopted, while in France the annual career development
review was the primary approach. This may suggest that in the UK the performance evaluation is also adopted as a
way of career development. In contrast, in France performance evaluation and career development reviews are seen
as two distinct issues and as such evaluated separately.

A number of measures were adopted to assess the extent to which training was integrated with other HR systems
such as work-force planning and recruitment. French organizations were found to use training and qualifications
data for workforce planning more than UK organizations. French organizations appeared to place a higher emphasis
on training new recruits to aid recruitment difficulties while the UK concentrated on retraining existing employees.
Another measure adopted was whether organizations had computerized any part of their HR function, training and
development in particular. This measure was adopted as computerization usually makes it easier to gain access to
information, integrate with other HR information, and is a sign that organizations hold information on training and
development activity in a systematic way. The results indicated that this was more widespread in French
organizations. In addition, line management involvement in development of training policy was more common in
France. This may reflect the emphasis French organizations place on the use of line management in training needs


These results make it apparent that there are clear differences in the focus French and UK organizations place on a
range of training and development dimensions. Furthermore, these differences can to some extent be attributed to
the national context. For example, the marked discrepancies in the percentage of annual salaries and wages spent on
training is likely to be a reflection of French legislation. Also the focus French organizations place on “high flier”
schemes may in fact be a reflection of cultural perceptions of management and the status it is afforded as a
professional occupation. There is also a marked difference in the adoption of training to aid recruitment difficulties.
In France the solution lies in the training of new employees while in the UK it rests with the retraining of existing
employees. The results also, however, demonstrate similarities. For example, in terms of the identification of
training needs each country appears to have a single method that dominates, in the UK it is performance appraisals
and in France it is line management requests. Also both countries adopt more informal approaches to evaluating the
effectiveness of training as opposed to formal methods.

To conclude, the evidence suggests there are clear national patterns in organizational training and development
systems. These are likely to reflect not only organizational preferences but national preferences for specific
approaches. As such they are a reflection of the legislative and cultural environment in which the organization is

Notes and references

1 Brewster, C. and Bournois, E, “Human resource management: a European perspective”, Personnel Review, Vol.
20 No. 6, 1991, pp. 4-14.

2 Lane, C., Management of the Total Enterprise, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1991.

3 Randlesome, C., “The Business cultures in Germany: Part I Western Germany”, in Randlesome, C., Brierley, W.,
Bruton, K, Gordon, C. and King, R (Eds), Business Cultures in Europe, 2nd ed., Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford,

4 Shaw, J.B., Tang, S.F.Y., Fisher, C.D, and Kirkbride, P.S., “Organisational and environmental factors related to
HRM practices in Hong Kong: a cross-cultural expanded replication”, International Journal of HRM, Vol. 4 No. 4,
1993, pp. 785-816.

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5 Brewster, C. and Hegewisch, A. (Eds), Policy and Practice in European Human Resource Management: Evidence
and Analysis, Routledge, London, 1994.

6 DiMaggio, P.J. and Powell, W.W., “The iron cage revisited: institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in
organisational fields”, American Sociological Review, Vol. 48, 1983, pp. 147-60.

7 Cohen, Y. and Pfeffer, J., “Organisational hiring standards”, Administration Science Quarterly, Vol. 31, 1986, pp.

8 Maurice, M., Sellier, F. and Silvestre, J.J., Politique d’education et Organisation Industrielle, PUF, Paris, 1982.

9 Bournois, E., Chauchat, J.H. and Roussillon, S., “Training and Management Development in Europe”, in
Brewster, C. and Hegewisch, A., Policy and Practice in European Human Resource Management, Routledge,
London, 1994.

10 Hosking, D.M. and Anderson, N., Organisational Change and Innovation-Psychological Perspectives and
Practices in Europe, Routledge, London, 1992.

11 National Economic Development Office/Manpower Services Commission, Competence and Competition,
NEDO, London, 1984.

12 Coopers & Lybrand, A Challenge to Complacency: Changing Attitudes to Training, Manpower Services
Commission, London, 1985.

13 Syrett, M., “Have British employers responded to the training challenge?”, Industrial Society, September, 1990,
pp. 16-18.

14 Knell, J., “Labour force skills and human resource management: a local economy perspective”, Personnel
Review, Vol. 22 No. 7, 1993, pp. 30-44.

15 Ashton, D., Green, E and Hoskins, M., “The training system in British capitalism: changes and prospects”, in
Green, F. (Ed.), The Restructuring of the British Economy, Harvester Wheatsheaf, Brighton, 1989.

16 Steedman, H. and Wagner, K., “Productivity, machinery and skills: clothing manufacture in Britain and West
Germany”, National Institute Economic Review, May 1989, pp. 40-57.

17 Prais, S.J., Jarvis, V. and Wagner, K., “Productivity and vocational skills in services in Britain and Germany:
hotels”, in Ryan, P. (Ed.), International Comparisions of Vocational Education and Training for Intermediate Skills,
The Falmer Press, London, 1991.

18 British Institute of Management, The Making of British Managers, BIM, London, 1987.

19 Keep, E., “Corporate training strategies: the vital component?”, in Storey, J. (Ed.), Perspective on Human
Resource Management, Routledge, London, 1989.

20 Storey, J. and Sisson, K., “Limits to transformation: human resource management in the British context”, British
Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 21 No. 1, 1990, pp. 60-5.

21 Parkinson, S., “Management development’s strategic role”, Journal of General Management, Vol. 16 No. 2, 1990,
pp. 63-75.

22 Department of Employment, Labour Market and Skill Trends, HMSO, London, 1992.

23 Warr, P., Training for Managers, Institute of Management Report, ESRC, Corby, 1983.

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24 Sloman, M., A Handbook for Training Strategy, Gower, Aldershot, 1994.

25 Handy, C., The Making of Managers: A Report on Management Education, Training and Development in the
United States, West Germany, France, Japan and the UK, NEDO, London, 1987.

26 Handy, C., “Great Britain”, in Handy, C., Gordon, C., Gow, I. and Randlesome, C. (Eds), Making Managers, The
Bath Press, Pitman Publishing, Avon, 1988, Ch. 6.

27 IIPUK (Investors in People UK), Better People Better Business, Investors in People UK, London, Ref: IIP63,
1994. Also see The National Standard – Links to Assessment Indicators, Ref: IIP44, 1994 and Investing in People:
How to Get Started, Ref: IIP64, 1994.

28 Handy, C., Gordon, C, Gow, I. and Randlesome, C. (Eds), Making Managers, The Bath Press, Pitman
Publishing, Avon, 1988.

29 Segrestin, D., Sociologie de l’Entreprise, A. Colin, Paris, 1992.

30 Bourdieu, P., “La noblesse d’etat”, Grandes Ecoles et Esprit de Corps, ED de Minuit, Paris, 1989.

31 Glaude, N., “Salaires et carrieres des ingenieurs diplomes. Un classement des grandes ecoles”, Economie et
Statistique, No. 249, 1989.

32 Bauer, N., Bertin, A. and Mourot, B., L’acces au sommet des grandes entreprises francaises 1985. 94, Cnrs
Boyden, Paris, 1994.

33 Barsoux, J.-L. and Lawrence, P., Management in France, Cassell Educational, London, 1994.

34 Boltanski, L., Les Cadres: La Formation d’un Groupe Social, Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1982. Translated by
Goldhammer, A., The Making of a Class, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987.

35 Groux, G., Les Cadres, La Decouverte, Paris, 1984.

36 Aubert, J., Gilbert, P. and Pigeyre, F., Savoir et Pouvoir. Les Competences en Question, PUF, Paris, 1993.

37 Bunet, J., “Les reenchantement de l’entreprise”, Sociologie du Travail, Vol. 17 No. 3, 1986.

38 Holden, L. and Livian, Y., “Does strategic training policy exist? Some evidence from ten European countries”,
Personnel Review, Vol. 21 No. 1, 1992, pp. 12-23.

39 Berton, F. and Podevin, G., “Vingt ans de formation professinnelle continue: de la promotion sociale a la getion
de l’emploi”, Formation-emploi, No. 34, 1991.

40 Meignant, A., Manager la Formation, Editions Liaison, Paris, 1991.

41 Dany, F. and Livian, Y.F., “Quelques evolutions de la formation professionnelle continue des cadres”, La
Gestion des Cadres, Ch. 5, Vuibert, Paris, 1995.

42 Brislin, R.W., Lonner, W.J., Thorndike, R.M., Cross-cultural Research Methods, Wiley-Inter-science, London,

43 Brislin, R.W. (Ed.), Translation Applications and Research, Gouldner Press, New York, NY, 1976.

44 Hofstede, G., Culture’s Consequences, Beverly Hills, CA, 1980.

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45 Norusis, M.J., SPSS-X Advanced Statistics Guide, 2nd ed., SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, 1988.

46 Jackson, T., Evaluation: Relating Training to Business Performance, Kogan Page, London, 1989.

Further reading

Ardagh, J., France Today, Penguin, London, 1987.

Constable, J. and McCormick, R., The Making of British Managers, British Institute of Managers, London, 1987.

Deloitte, Haskins, Sells and IFF, Management Development: Management Challenge for the 1990s, Training
Agency, London, 1989.

Gordon, C., “France”, in Handy, C., Gordon, C., Gow, I. and Randlesome, C. (Eds), Making Managers, The Bath
Press, Pitman Publishing, Avon, 1988, Ch. 4.

Olga Tregaskis, Research Officer, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Bedford, UK, and

Francoise Dany, Research Fellow, Groupe ESC Lyon, Institut de Recherche de l’Entreprise, Lyon, France


Price Waterhouse Cranfield conducted a study examining the differences between human resources development
practices in France and the UK. Data were collected from responses of a sample consisting of 1,894 organizations
which were required to finish self-report questionnaires. Results showed that French and British organizations had
different training and development priorities as a result of legislative and cultural factors.

Source Citation (MLA 7

Dany, Francoise, and Olga Tregaskis. “A comparison of HRD in France and the UK.” Journal of European
Industrial Training Jan. 1996: 20+. Academic OneFile. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.

Document URL

Gale Document Number: GALE|A18194353

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