Evaluating management development and training : the case of Saudi Arabia
The purpose of this research was to investigate issues in the evaluation of executive training programmes in Saudi Arabian organisations. The researcher investigated the impact of training of the Executive Development Programmes (EDP) offered by the Institute of Public Administration( IPA) upon on-the-job performance of the executives who attended it. In order to achieve this purpose the data from participants in ten EDPs and the participants' superiors was collected in two surveys. Some sources have claimed that training is ineffective in Saudi Arabia, particularly Executive training, in producing observable change in the workplace. Yet these same sources have made no effort to evaluate, or statistically document, whether the statement is true. In addition, little has been said about the Saudi management context elsewhere regarding the social and organisational environments and the impact that they have on successfully applying the material and methods learnt in a trai ning course once the attendee is back at the workplace. The present study attempted to do this. Difficulties in developing managers, and training them, have arisen because of Saudi Arabia's accelerated development from a traditional, tribal society towards a modem, industralised country. Field research was conducted in Saudi Arabia from December, 1993 to November,1995. Methods of eliciting data included questionnaires before the training programme, after the programme, and from their supervisors. The study improves models for understanding the nature of factors influencing management training and development in a context like Saudi Arabia. The researcher found that most Saudi managers and executives felt that Executive Development training was desirable and needed. The researcher found that actual implementation of their knowledge was low once they returned to their jobs. This of course was because the EDP programme was not very influential due to irrelevant training methods, i.e. case studies, to the Saudi organisational environment; therefore, recommendations are made to improve IPA and its EDP programme. Precisely, when the theoretical model proposed from the literature review was tested, it was founded that conclusion did not generally tend to support that model. So a second model was suggested. It was found that the Saudi social and cultural environment has a strong impact on management and Saudi organisations, which may be topics worthy of finer study.