Academic journal article Human Resource Planning

World Class Executive Development

Academic journal article Human Resource Planning

World Class Executive Development

Article excerpt


Corporations in the United States are faced with increasing competition and a quickly changing environment. With the rise in globalization and rapid pace of technology, the environment has become one of rapid change (Bolt, 1989; Doyle, 1990; Lei, 1990; Van de Boom, 1990). Simultaneously, the basis of competition has changed. Quality is now a cost of entry rather than a point of differentiation. While advances in quality provide some competitive advantage in the short run, long-run superiority comes from the human element and managerial expertise (Schein, 1993; Bolt, 1989; Van de Boom, 1990). Those companies able to utilize human resources to their fullest potential will have a competitive edge. Two questions arise from this shift: how to ensure an organization has a steady supply of managerial talent and how to ensure the efforts of all employees are focused towards the goals of the organization. The best way to ensure both is to tie development activities directly to corporate strategies. In order to establish a truly global benchmark of what corporations are doing to link strategy and development, we visited and interviewed corporations throughout North America, Asia, the Pacific Rim and Europe. Figure 1 provides a list of the companies in our research sample and indicates the level of executives we interviewed within each company. We found interesting differences across cultures that framed the companies' approach to executive development and guided our analysis.

Figure 1

The Combined Research Sample


AB SKF [c]                                                      Reebok [c]
Asea Brown Boveri Ltd. [a, b]             Scandinavian Airlines System [a]
Astra, A.B. [a]                                                  Stora [c]
Austrian Industries, A.C. [a]                          Telecom Eireann [a]
British Steel [a]                     Tetra Pak International, A.B. [a, c]
F. Hoffmann - La Roche Ltd. [a, c]                               Total [a]
L. Givaudan & Cie, S.A. [a, c]               Union Bank of Switzerland [a]
Neste Oy [a, b]                                      United Distillers [c]
Philips International, B.V. [a]                              Unterberg [c]
Rank Xerox [c]                                  Zurich Insurance Group [a]

Japan and the Pacific Rim

Amcor Ltd. [c]                                               Nihon DEC [c]
Boral Ltd. [c]                                Nissan Motor Corporation [c]
Fuji Xerox [c]                           Sato Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. [c]
Honda Motor Corporation [a, b, c]                  Sony Corporation [a, c]
Jeol U.S.A., Inc. [c]                       Toho Real Estate Co., Ltd. [c]
Mobil Sekiyu Kabushiki Kaisha [c]                    Tonen Corporation [c]
Murata Machinery [c]                    Toyota Motor Corporation [a, b, c]

North America

Amdahl Corporation [a]                                    John Hancock [a]
American National Can [a]                         Johnson & Johnson [a, c]
ARCO [a, b]                                               JP Morgan [a, c]
AT&T [a]                                                         Merck [a]
BellSouth Corporation [a]                        Morgan Guaranty Trust [a]
Boeing [a]                                                    Motorola [a]
Bristol-Myers Squibb [a, b]                      New England Telephone [a]
Chrysler Corporation [a]                          Nissan Motor Corporation
Coca-Cola [a]                                      Northern Telecom [a, b]
Dun & Bradstreet [c]                                          Polaroid [a]
DuPont [a, c]                                          Reader's Digest [a]
Eastman Kodak [a]                                      Shipley Company [a]
Eli Lilly & Company [a]                             Step 2 Corporation [c]
Federal Express [a]                                Sun Microsystems [a, b]
Florida Power and Light [a]                                     Texaco [a]
Hartford Insurance Group [a]                                  Unilever [a]
Hewlett Packard [a]                              Westinghouse Electric [a]
IBM [a]                                           Xerox Corporation [a, c]

a = HR Professionals
b = Line Executives
c = Senior Executives

Differences Across Cultures

In general, North American firms tended to focus on formal approaches to developing executives. …

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