This article extends Gulrajani's proposal (2007) for a non-managerialist alternative to the dichotomy posited by the radical and reformist critiques of development management. Drawing on extensive personal participation in development work during and after the Sandinista period, the author proposes that in Nicaragua a practice of development management emerged that defies the radical–reformist dichotomy. Unlike the alternative that Gulrajani proposed, it is argued that this practice had managerialist characteristics but that this reinforced rather than undermined progressive social change. The occurrence of this managerialism of the revolution, grounded in the Sandinista ethos of popular power and shaped by local history, conditions, and the extreme demands of national defence, suggests that development ends and managerialism are not necessarily antithetical. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.