Purpose: Lees's "ten faces" description of organizational rationales for investing in management development reflected a personal assessment which was not grounded in empirical data. Although frequently discussed and cited since, no critique of the model, or discussion of the ethics of organizational investment in management development, has been offered. The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of the rationale of a management development programme, particularly on programme participants. Design/methodology/approach: An ethnographic approach was utilized in the collection of data on reactions to the rationale for deploying a spiritual management development initiative in a large Irish services organization. Findings: The research conducted on the programme found the programme's rationale to be "hetero-ethical" in that it suggested multiple possible outcomes for participants which they were encouraged to identify and pursue on an individual level. Research limitations/implications: The implications of this for participants and organizations are considered. Originality/value: The concept of the hetero-ethical rationale for management development, and its implications, are discussed and potential avenues for further research are identified. This concept differs from previous ones in that it considers how rationales for management are received and appreciated by participants. Â© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.