This article provides a cautionary tale of the complexities of implementing peer learning groups (PLG's) and blended learning approaches for promoting self-directed learning (SDL) in the context of competing objectives for staff and students on a full-time MBA module in the field of HRM. We suggest that existing literature on PLG's and SDL does not, so far, explore in detail messy contexts where organisational pressures on teaching teams lead to multiple, conflicting objectives that do not allow for a rational delivery of the anticipated pedagogic strategy. Recognising further the relatively limited amount of studies within a HRM teaching context, we seek to contribute to the SDL literature by outlining the problems that can occur when there are hidden objectives behind the use of SDL. We further suggest that the full-time MBA context may be particularly opposed to the use of SDL due to specific student expectations of 'appropriate' modes of delivery. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.