Review of Scandinavian Leadership Development Programs: Open and Closed Customization

Andreas Kjær Stage*, Frank Meier

*Corresponding author for this work

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Leadership development programs (LDPs) have proliferated and diversified but still usually share the ambition of involving the participants’ on-the-job experiences. Yet, the dominant view hereof is crude, not acknowledging the variety of ways used to accomplish it. The Scandinavian context is illustrative for reviewing what we term ‘customization devices’ because of its tradition for LDPs with collective reflection, practice orientation, and broad participation. This review curates and synthesizes 31 studies evaluating empirical experiences with customization devices in Scandinavian university-based LDPs from no earlier than 2010. Such devices fall within three key categories, namely theories, cases, and relationships, and have three key effects: distancing from practice, dedicating to the program, and devising future action. Based on our findings, we challenge the dominant view that open enrollment programs cannot adequately mobilize participants’ experiences by theorizing the distinction between open and closed customization. The review further serves as a resource for LDP designers and instructors to carefully choose and mix customization devices that are complementary in their effects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101228
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Issue number3
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Leadership development
  • Customization
  • Experiential learning theory
  • Management education
  • Leadership training
  • Scandinacian public sector

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