Because they last anything from half a day to three days or more, and involve not only several participants but also assessors — usually on a one to two ratio to participants — development centres are expensive to run, and that is on top of the expenditure of significant amounts of time and money in setting them up. An increasing number of organisations do, however, regard them as a very worthwhile investment.

Like assessment centres, which may be employed in recruitment and selection, development centres use a variety of techniques, such as in-tray exercises, presentations, group exercises, interviews, ability tests and personality questionnaires, in an environment in which several participants are observed by a team of assessors who evaluate their performance against various criteria or competences. The main differences from assessment centres lie in the perceptions of participants, the element of peer and self-assessment in development centres, and the feedback that is provided.

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