A comparative analysis of French and U.K. organizations is used to explore the impact of national context and formal human resources (HR) strategy on employee development systems. Survey data is drawn from 531 French and 879 U.K. organizations. The results indicate that national context is the strongest predictor of how employee development is organized above and beyond the impact of a formalized HR strategy. In contrast to French organizations, U.K. companies tend to be less restrictive in the range of management tools they use for monitoring, evaluating and delivering training and development. These differences are considered in the light of divergent national approaches to education and skill development. The use of a formalized HR strategy was correlated with the collection of work-force data on training and development need and effectiveness. It is suggested that the formalization of an HR strategy promotes HR planning mechanisms. The implications of these findings with respect to the ethnocentricity of the human resource management literature are considered.