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The education of retail managers through management training programs in apparel retail organizations

Irene Marie Foster, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this research was to investigate the education and training of retail managers through management training programs in three apparel retail organizations and to inform educators and retailers about recommended retail management training practices in order to better prepare their students and employees. Methodology was based on qualitative research, using the multiple-case study method, with an open-ended questionnaire type of interview. Interviews of apparel retail managers and trainers gave insights into the objectives of the study. These objectives were to review: (a) the content of education and management training programs used by three apparel retailers, (b) the training methods, (c) the assessment tools, and (d) the evaluation techniques used in those training programs. The findings show that, since the restructuring of the selected companies during 1995 and 1996, overall educational reimbursement had decreased. Training programs used both on-the-job and classroom methods, and were conducted primarily in stores. Managers were responsible for most of the training. Participants of the study perceived the goals of their company's management training to be profit, managerial continuity, employee development, and career or self-improvement related. Assessment tools varied, with observational techniques, examinations, self-evaluations, and reviews reported. Participants commented on the lack of overall program evaluation, training consistency, and communication. Conclusions of the study indicate that apparel retail management training content was limited in technological advances and had little content pertaining to the changing demographics of employees. Methods and assessment tools used in training were conducive to learning. Program goals and objectives were not always clearly defined. Evaluations of the overall effectiveness of a training program were rarely conducted. Recommendations to retailers and educators were to: (a) update programs to meet the technological and human relation needs of a changing retail environment, (b) consider all company employees as potential trainers, (c) utilize different assessment techniques and methods of teaching, (d) standardize and evaluate training programs, (e) improve communication among retail company personnel, and (f) continue to develop curricula that include communication, feedback and assessment techniques, and field practica.

Subject Area

Business education|Adult education|Continuing education|Management

Recommended Citation

Foster, Irene Marie, "The education of retail managers through management training programs in apparel retail organizations" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9709596.