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Recent discussion concerning continuing professional development (CPD) has tended to focus on either the needs of the individual professional or the interests of the professional bodies[1,2]. There are other stakeholders who could have a legitimate interest in the effective management of CPD. These include organizations which employ professional staff, non-professional employees, the Government, education and training providers and the clients of professionally qualified practitioners. Scant attention has been given to the perspective which any employing organization may have of CPD processes and activities, particularly in view of the support and assistance which many organizations provide to encourage the development of their staff. The purpose of this article is to focus on such an organizational perspective. In particular, we report on evidence pertaining to the ways in which organizations seek to manage the CPD of employees whom they support in development activities.
There has been an increasing recognition of the contribution which the effective management of human resources can make to the competitive advantage of organizations[3-6]. Within this context the contribution of training and development in general, and the professional development of managers in particular, have secured recognition[7-10]. There has been a consistent growth in both managerial and professional employment since the 1960s and this trend is expected to continue[11,12]. Many managers belong to professional bodies which seek to encourage or require members to demonstrate evidence of continuing professional development. Thus an investment of resources in the promotion and maintenance of CPD might be expected to assist an organization to retain its competitive position.
CPD has been defined by Madden and Mitchell[13, p. 12] as:
the maintenance and enhancement of the knowledge, expertise and competence of professionals throughout their careers according to a plan formulated with regard to the needs of the professional, the employer, the professions and society.
The use of the word "competence" in the context of CPD implies an outcome in terms of performance. Further, it is worthy of note that this definition explicitly recognizes the employing organization as a stakeholder in the CPD process. By engaging in development activities, the professional is expected to demonstrate an ability to perform to acceptable standards over a period of time, having regard to the changes and challenges which accompany all business and organizational activity.
The Institute of Personnel and Development (IPD) has suggested that "CPD is systematic, ongoing, self directed learning"[14, p.4]. The emphasis on systematic development suggests a framework within which formal and informal learning activities can be set. The expectation is that learning and development will become planned and organized. It has been noted already that there could be a conflict about the ownership of CPD. One view argues that all professional development activities should be effectively managed in relation to the overall organizational business objectives. This is the focus which would be encouraged, for example, by the Investors in People framework; and it is a consideration such as this which may be used to justify the allocation of resources and general organizational support for CPD. All CPD then would be seen as assisting the organization to meet its business objectives. A second view is that CPD should be driven and owned by the individual professional employee. Unless resources for development are unlimited, the potential conflict between these two perspectives may become a concern. An organization with only limited funds to support development will need a coherent framework in order to ensure that their resources are allocated in the best possible way. It may be necessary also to determine whether individual development needs accord with business imperatives. A third possibility would be an arrangement by which the management of CPD becomes a shared responsibility between the individual and the organization.
In order to establish an overview of how organizations in South-East Wales regard and manage CPD, management professionals in the local branches of two major professional bodies were invited to an open forum in order to discuss a range of emerging issues. Following the initial meeting, a general invitation was given to participants to attend a series of network-type meetings where it would be possible to consider in detail an agenda of items which might be associated with the identification of a suitable organizational perspective on CPD matters. Particular emphasis was placed on the desirability to involve organizations which consider CPD important and which …