Human Resource Development

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David McGuire

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    About the Author

    David McGuire, PhD, is senior lecturer in human resource development at Edinburgh Napier University. A graduate of the University of Limerick and National University of Ireland, Galway, David teaches undergraduate and postgraduate classes in the areas of HRD, leadership and managing diversity. A former Fulbright and Government of Ireland scholar, David is Associate Editor of Advances in Developing Human Resources. He sits on four editorial boards (Human Resource Development Quarterly, Advances in Developing Human Resources, Journal of Change Management and European Journal of Training and Development). In 2008, David received the Early Career Scholar award from the Academy of Human Resource Development. He is Chief External Examiner at Staffordshire University. His e-mail address is: d.mcguire@napier.ac.uk.

    Preface

    Human resource development (HRD) is an evolving, dynamic, ever-changing field. It is shaped by the global environment and the people and organisations that work within it. To comprehensively capture the field of HRD within the confines of one book is an impossible task – so herewith is a snapshot of the field, opening up to you, the reader, opportunities and possibilities for further investigation and research.

    This textbook seeks to introduce readers to the key debates and challenges within the field of HRD. It aims to cover the key aspects of the field and provide a useful synthesis of research across 15 disciplinary areas. While the textbook is principally oriented towards research and a critical viewpoint, there is much within the text to satisfy the interests of practitioners. To this end, the textbook should inform evidence-based practice and open up a menu of possibilities for advancing organisational practice.

    From a pedagogical point of view, each of the chapters includes a set of learning objectives, two ‘talking points’ (which are brief case vignettes, designed to show HRD in action and provoke dialogue and discussion), an end-of-chapter case study (which in most cases provides an organisational application of the concepts discussed in the chapter) and a set of discussion questions, whereby readers can test their knowledge of the contents discussed in the chapter.

    Chapter 1 sets out to unearth the foundations of human resource development. It traces the origins of HRD and looks at the early struggles to clearly define and demarcate the field. In doing so, it explores the multidisciplinary nature of the field and examines differences in emphasis between the US and Europe. It identifies the practical challenges facing the field and identifies the need for HRD to develop its empirical base as well as providing practitioners with useful tools to strengthen the competitiveness of organisations. Finally, the chapter discusses critical dimensions of HRD – a theme that is followed up in subsequent chapters.

    The remainder of the textbook is organised into three sections recognising that HRD operates at the individual, organisational and community/societal level of analysis.

    Part 1 of the textbook explores the value and application of HRD at the individual level. It recognises that people lie at the heart of HRD's effectiveness and that people are an organisation's most important resource.

    Chapter 2 explores how adults learn. It provides a synopsis of the three key schools of learning, namely cognitivism, behaviourism and humanism. It reviews the key tenets underpinning each of the three schools, examining the learning and development implications that emerge. The final section examines critical theory approaches to learning and critiques the role of individuals, educationalists and professional bodies in the learning process.

    Chapter 3 recognises the importance of creativity in human resource development. It examines barriers to employee creativity in the workplace and outlines a framework for fostering creativity around the three dimensions of positionality, perspective and perception. Positionality considers the situatedness of creativity and its connectedness to individual identity and historic and cultural context. Perspective acknowledges that creativity is an outcome of one's cognitive style, experiences and risk-taking disposition, while perception sees creativity as being influenced by the work environment, level of leader support and employee motivation. The chapter concludes that further research needs to focus on how to empower employee creativity and investigate group and team creativity in more depth.

    Chapter 4 examines the concept of careers and how the notion of career has changed in the last three decades. It looks at how careers are defined and outlines the key principles underpinning five career concepts, namely boundaryless career, protean career, authentic career, kaleidoscope career and the portfolio career. The chapter then goes on to look at the importance of career counselling, focusing in particular on two well-known and widely used instruments – Schein's Career Anchors Inventory and Holland's Vocational Preference Inventory. The chapter concludes with a brief exploration of the benefits of continuing professional development.

    Chapter 5 investigates the importance of identity and diversity issues in HRD. For too long, the field of HRD has neglected employee difference and this chapter provides a useful commentary on the role that HRD can adopt as a diversity champion in the workplace. The chapter examines the spread of diversity training in the workplace, exploring the objectives, rationale and social and organisational goals underpinning such training. In particular, the chapter explores the obstacles faced by employees arising from their gender, race or sexuality and identifies interventions that can be used to promote openness to diversity in the workplace.

    Part 2 of the textbook examines how HRD operates at the organisational level. It seeks to build an understanding of how HRD can help employees interact with organisational systems, structures and processes more effectively. It recognises that learning and growth lies at the heart of HRD and that investment in employees is critical if organisations are to attain competitive advantages in the marketplace.

    Chapter 6 examines one of the core aspects of human resource development – namely training and development. Rather than review a range of training interventions in isolation, this chapter seeks to compare a selection of commonly used interventions across eight separate training dimensions: learning theory; knowledge–skills mix; training transferability; degree of learner involvement; locus of initiation; degree of reflection; individual/social interaction; and cost. This approach is designed to help practitioners make a more informed choice in their selection of training interventions.

    Chapter 7 reviews the literature on training evaluation. It assesses the core function of evaluation as one of understanding cause-and-effect in making more effective organisational decisions. It briefly considers evaluation from ontological and epistemological perspectives and moves on to look at Kirkpatrick's Four Levels typology and other commonly used evaluation models in the literature. The final two sections of the chapter examine the concepts of benchmarking and the balanced scorecard and highlight the value of these approaches to practitioners.

    Chapter 8 embarks upon an analysis of the role of HRD in performance management. It investigates the adoption of competency-based approaches to managing learning and development in organisations. It then looks at the role of line managers and assesses the range of responsibilities falling upon line-manager shoulders in downsized and devolved organisations. The chapter then briefly examines the three concepts of coaching, mentoring and employee counselling before exploring talent development and how leaders can positively affect the performance management process.

    Chapter 9 focuses attention on the area of strategic HRD. It first examines the global setting for HRD and the factors affecting how organisations are operating and structuring themselves in today's uncertain economic environment. A synthesis is provided of six of the key strategic HRD models that have been developed over the last two decades. This is followed by a discussion of the barriers affecting the successful implementation of strategic HRD approaches in organisations.

    Chapter 10 discusses the literature on organisational learning. It focuses on the significance of organisational learning, highlighting in particular the contribution of Argyris and Schon and examining single-, double- and triple-loop learning. The chapter moves on to look at the learning organisation concept, taking as its starting point Senge's Five Disciplines. It then explores other perspectives on the learning organisation and steps that organisations can take to embed learning at the heart of their processes.

    Chapter 11 provides an overview of the theory and practice in the area of knowledge management. It explores the emergence of the knowledge economy and the central role played by knowledge workers. It examines the significance of knowledge in organisations and defines the concept of the ‘ba’. It then considers knowledge creation and knowledge conversion processes before identifying four forms of knowledge that exist in organisations. The role of HRD in knowledge management is then considered.

    Chapter 12 produces a synthesis of the literature on leadership development. The chapter reviews research on four prominent leadership approaches (trait, behavioural, contingency, transformational), looking specifically at the developmental implications flowing from each leadership approach. The chapter argues that to date, much discussion on leadership theories has clearly distinguished various traits and characteristics that effective leaders need to have, but has provided little detail on how such traits and characteristics should be developed. The chapter concludes that leadership remains an elusive concept, being shaped and affected by a range of forces. In turn, leadership development is thus a complex process necessitating leadership development consultants to work across all four leadership approaches in developing and delivering well-rounded and effective interventions.

    Part 3 of the textbook acknowledges the role of HRD at the community/societal level. In recent times, it is increasingly recognised that HRD has an important role to play in building and developing communities and operating on a cross-national and international basis.

    Chapter 13 focuses on the emerging field of international HRD. It examines the cross-cultural applicability of HRD concepts and how HRD interventions can be usefully exported across national boundaries. It presents a framework for examining international HRD, identifying four separate phases in the internationalisation process (multi-domestic, international, multinational and transnational). For each phase, the framework examines the characteristics of the organisation under the headings of structural issues, cultural issues and HRD issues. The chapter concludes that HRD has an important role to play in the internationalisation process and in ensuring the maximisation of organisational efficiencies.

    Chapter 14 looks at the role that HRD can play in advancing awareness and understanding of the challenges posed by climate change. It presents a framework though which HRD tools and interventions can be deployed to further organisational sustainability goals and advances the notion of ‘Green HRD’ – namely a mechanism for transforming self, others and the organisation as prudent users of natural and human-made resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

    Chapter 15 considers the role of HRD at the community and societal level. It looks at the increasing levels of attention being given to the issue of corporate social responsibility in organisations, before moving on to examine ethics in HRD. The transformative role of HRD at the national and international level is then examined, with particular emphasis given to the tools that HRD possesses which can be applied effectively at the societal level.

    Conclusion and appendix

    The conclusion to the textbook presents some thoughts on the state of the field of HRD. It reviews the proposition that HRD exists at the individual, organisational and societal level, and advances a vision for the future of HRD. It argues that HRD is in a constant state of evolution, responding to organisational and environmental change. It identifies a need for the field to develop its empirical base and to continue to foster dynamism and promote diversity of thought.

    An appendix to the textbook provides advice and guidance to students undertaking HRD examinations. It showcases examples of examination answers to two HRD questions – these examples are graded at a high, medium and bare-pass level. In presenting these examples along with examiner feedback, it is hoped that students will be able to identify the hallmarks of effective examination answers.

    In wrapping up this preface, it is important to recognise that human resource development is a powerful tool empowering individuals, organisations and societies to compete effectively in a global marketplace. It harnesses the latent capabilities of individuals helping them achieve real progress in the organisations, communities and societies where they live. In so doing, HRD practitioners through the application of their skills and talents can make a real difference to the lives of people across the world.

    Acknowledgements

    I wish to thank my gorgeous wife Fiona and beautiful daughter Amie for their constant love and support during the writing of this book. I am also grateful to the McGuire and Baxter families for their kindness, support and friendship. I would like to acknowledge the advice and insights provided by colleagues at Edinburgh Napier University and former colleagues at Queen Margaret University and Oakland University, Michigan. I would like to thank Dr Thomas Garavan (Edinburgh Napier University), David O'Donnell (Intellectual Capital Institute of Ireland) and Prof. Maria Cseh (George Washington University) for being mentors to me and introducing me to the field of HRD. I would like to acknowledge with appreciation the contributions of Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen and colleagues for their valuable inputs to the first edition of the textbook. Thanks to Robin Grenier for her help and support in writing the creativity chapter. I am grateful for the support and encouragement of Kirsty Smy and Nina Smith (Sage Publishing) and Jane Fricker (copyeditor), who all did a wonderful job. Finally, a word of gratitude to my friends and colleagues within the AHRD and UFHRD for the hand of friendship offered to me over the last 15 years. You are a great bunch of people!

    Dr David McGuireEdinburgh Napier University

    Guided Tour

    Chapter Objectives Bulleted lists of objectives at the start of each chapter outline what you can expect to learn.

    Talking Points Case vignettes highlight HRD in action and provoke critical analysis and discussion.

    End of Chapter Case Studies with Questions Case studies of high profile organisations will help you to relate theory and real-world practice.

    Discussion Questions Test your understanding of the chapter and are ideal for revision.

    Appendix Provides advice and guidance to students undertaking HRD examinations, including examples of examination answers graded at a high, medium and bare-pass level, along with examiner feedback.

    About the Companion Website

    Human Resource Development, second edition, by David McGuire is supported by a companion website.

    Visit www.sagepub.co.uk/Mcguire to access the following resources:

    For Lecturers
    • Instructor's Manual: containing tutor notes for each chapter to support your teaching.
    • PowerPoint Slides: including key points from each chapter.
    For Students
    • Additional Case Studies: Engaging and relevant case studies to help illustrate the main concepts in each chapter.
    • Web Links: Explore topics further with a selection of useful websites and videos.
    • SAGE Online Journals: Deepen your understanding by engaging with relevant SAGE journal articles.
  • Preparing for HRD Examinations

    Appendix objectives

    The objectives of this appendix are to:

    • provide advice on how to prepare for HRD examinations;
    • showcase examples of examination answers (high, medium and low);
    • identify hallmarks of effective examination answers.
    Introduction

    Examinations can be stressful, nerve-wracking occasions. For many students, they are all-consuming, holding a central position in their thoughts, dreams and preoccupations in the days and weeks before the main event. While academics sometimes tell students that examinations are valuable opportunities to showcase their knowledge and learning, the pressure induced by examinations can cause students to freeze and clam up. Careful preparation and good technique can help mitigate the tensions caused by examinations. The purpose of this short appendix is to provide guidance and advice on how best to prepare for HRD examinations. It provides examples of examination questions and answers to help you clearly distinguish the key hallmarks of effective examination answers.

    Advice on preparing for HRD examinations

    The following six key pointers are worth careful consideration when getting ready to sit HRD examinations:

    Answer the question you are asked, not the question you'd like to be asked

    Many students have preprepared answers to expected examination questions and really do not engage with the question posed. Some key advice would be to start your answer by addressing the question directly. When you have answered the question, only then tell us everything else you know about the wider topic.

    An examination answer is not a summary of a particular lecture

    Many students in answering examination questions adopt a very linear approach. They feel that they need to start an answer by defining key terms and giving a history of a particular topic before addressing the question posed. While in some cases definitions and a history of the topic may be required by the examination question, this is not always the case. Structuring your answer as a summary of a particular lecture misses the point. The purpose of a lecture is most often to introduce the student to a particular topic and lecturers will often cover many aspects of the topic within their lecture. An examination question is likely to focus on only one or two specific aspects of the topic – not the whole topic itself.

    Make a plan

    This may sound obvious, but formulating a plan will keep you structured and will ensure you stay on track. It helps the readability of your answer and ensures that key components/models or theories are included as part of your answer. Making a plan helps you signpost the reader by including an introduction, middle section and conclusion. You may also decide to incorporate case examples or practical illustrations of models and theories.

    Watch your timing

    Good examination practice requires you to keep an eye on your time and make sure you devote enough time to each exam question that you attempt. At the start of the exam, decide how much time you will allocate to each question – and once the time expires, move onto the next question.

    Showcase your knowledge of the research literature

    The best examination answers always make reference to key research contributions and leading thinkers within a particular field. Being able to quote and critique key authors helps show the examiners that you understand the topic and can apply relevant knowledge to a case problem or examination topic. Citing key contributions means that you will need to be able to recall such contributions and understand the academic and practical implications of models, theories and frameworks.

    Develop a critical writing style

    As a student, your role in an examination is not just to reproduce or describe key models, theories or frameworks, but to critique these contributions and identify strengths and weaknesses. You should be able to demonstrate the relevance and utility of theories and models and how a discipline has developed over time. In developing a critical writing style, you need to recognise that authors’ contributions can and should be validly critiqued. It is only through valid critique that a discipline grows and develops.

    Examples of examination questions and sample answers

    In this section, two sample HRD examination questions are provided, along with three sample (high pass, mid-range pass and borderline pass) solutions for each question. The purpose of providing sample answers is to help you distinguish the higher order learning required to achieve top grades. The key objective of this section is to help you prepare more completely for written examinations. Students should, however, be aware that academic standards and expectations can differ across academic institutions, so please check with your own professors, lecturers and tutors in relation to what they are looking for in any examination. The sample solutions provided are based upon real examination answers provided by students at a UK university under normal examination conditions.

    Question 1

    With the advent of boundaryless careers and staff mobility and turnover, critically examine why organisations should engage in employee career development?

    Answer 1

    A career can be described as a ‘succession of related jobs arranged in a hierarchy of prestige, through which persons moved in an ordered (more or less) predictable sequence’ (Wilensky, 1964), which is a definition which may have been appropriate at the time it was written, but is something that is almost unrecognisable in today's organisations.

    Due to a number of factors, including the recession, causing companies to downsize and make redundancies or the creation of flatter organisational structures, the pattern of careers described by Wilensky is very rare today. There is a great deal of lateral career moves as there are fewer opportunities of rising up the hierarchical pyramid of the organisation. Indeed, increasingly common is backward movement due to high unemployment and increasing competition for jobs. A job for life has become very rare with many employees only staying with a company a few years before moving on. With this thought, it would be understandable why organisations may choose not to engage in career development.

    Notions of career are also changing. The traditional notion of career development took a very paternalistic approach in that the company took a lot of responsibility for its employees’ career development. This echoes back to the idea of a job for life where employees could expect to stay with the same company and as a reward for their loyalty would be promoted up the ranks. However, this is less common now and is something which is more likely to be seen in the public sector.

    More common is the notion of a boundaryless career where employees can move freely between employers. This is a notion which was encouraged by Thatcher when she was in power as it would spread skills and knowledge between companies. The UK as a country is no longer seen as a boundary either due to globalisation and improved technology. Employment can be sought all over the world. This can benefit employers and employees as it allows knowledge and skills to be developed which can then be transferred.

    However, an employer may be reluctant to engage in career development due to this as they would be investing in an employee who may at any time decide to leave the organisation, taking with them all the skills and knowledge they have learned. Despite this, there are still a number of reasons why employers should participate in their employees’ career development.

    By engaging in an employee's career development, the company shows that they are willing to invest in that employee, thus showing their loyalty and trust in that individual. This will enhance the employee's psychological contract with the company resulting in them feeling more engaged and possibly increasing their loyalty. Also, if they feel that the employer is buying into their career development, it could make them feel more secure in their position. So, by showing an interest in an employee's career, the employer may be able to encourage the employee to continue their employment and be more engaged.

    A company who actively is involved in their employees’ career development will also be more appealing to potential new employees which could make it easier to recruit high quality employees. Therefore, bringing in new knowledge and skills which could help enhance the overall organisation.

    The processes which are used in career development can also be considered. Hirsch's (2003) model shows:

    Figure A1

    By considering each of these things, it is possible to put a plan in place, which employees are involved with, so they can see what they need to do to achieve their goal. Getting the employee to take responsibility for their career, but ensuring that the employer will support them will again make the employee feel more secure and should increase their performance.

    From this career plan, the organisation will be able to take part in succession planning and talent management. By doing this, the organisation can ensure that they have employees lined up with skills to take over when other employees leave the organisation.

    Succession planning as part of career development allows the organisation to prepare other employees to have the necessary skills to be able to fill key roles within the organisation. This can prevent any large holes being created when an employee leaves. However, this in itself may cause problems as employees may feel pushed out if they think another employee is being trained to take their position or if an employee is given the skills to be able to take on a role but never promoted to believe it, they may leave.

    Talent management will allow the company to see employees which they think are going to have the skills which will benefit the organisation to be identified. They can then encourage that employee to stay with the company by showing they are willing to invest in them by participating in their career development. If they are able to show a talented individual what they could achieve with the company and put things in place to allow them to reach that, it should keep them engaged.

    However, there could be an issue with this if employers do get involved with their career development. They must ensure they can fulfil their promises, otherwise they risk breaking the trust between employer and employee as well as the psychological contract. So from that respect, it could be considered that career development should be left as the responsibility of the individual employee.

    Career development is something which employers should consider; the notion of boundaryless careers should not prevent them and may help retain and attract talent. It does not have to be at a huge financial cost to the company, but one which could help increase employee engagement and better performance. The boundaryless career can also be seen as an advantage for companies as new employees will bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience from previous employers which can be used in their new employment.

    Examiner's comments

    Satisfactory but underwhelming answer. Greater detail could be provided on the boundaryless career. Many of the concepts are discussed in general terms and you need to show a greater degree of depth in your discussion. In particular, you also could cite more research. Some adequate arguments made in relation to reasons why organisations should engage in career development, but cite more examples and research!

    Grade

    Borderline Pass

    Answer 2

    Traditionally, careers saw people move through the hierarchy for extrinsic rewards (Rosenbaum, 1978), however careers no longer move in a linear trajectory (Sullivan and Baruch, 2009). Career development was a key element of a traditional career, where progression was predictable (McDonald et al., 2009), long service was rewarded and the workplace was more focused on staff loyalty rewarded by job security. Careers have changed with the emergence of boundaryless (where careers transcend more than one organisation), protean (where employees drive their careers due to their desire for self-fulfilment), portfolio (where individuals contract their skills and services to different organisations giving them mobility and freedom, while the onus is on them to ensure that their knowledge and skills are marketable) (Arnold, 2001) and hybrid careers (where employees want self-fulfilment, the ability to move organisations and job security). Because of these changes, it is important for organisations to determine if they should still offer career development to employees.

    Careers have changed for many reasons. Due to the recession, the labour market is more buoyant allowing organisations to buy in skills instead of developing them internally. Some organisations would argue that buying in pre-trained workers is ideal (Hall, 2005). The recession has led to an increase in redundancies which breaks the traditional promise of job security offered by organisations. Technological advances have allowed for outsourcing and offshoring to become more prevalent due to the reduction in cost this provides organisations. Another phenomenon altering careers is the increase of women in work, dual earning couples and single parents. Current employees have different priorities and needs than the traditional male workforce. Finally, changes to legislation removing the age of retirement means that older workers are staying in their roles for longer, acting as a block to younger workers who will therefore go externally to another organisation to progress up the career ladder and get the job they want. These changes demonstrate that careers are not just about the job itself, but external factors (Sullivan and Baruch, 2009) and the complexities show why Edgar (1995) found over 30 different terms for the word career.

    It is clear that changes have led to a more transactional exchange between employees and employers (Hall, 2004) with career development not being as evident. Despite the fear of organisations that investing money in developing employees’ careers could be fruitless due to their likelihood of leaving the organisation, it is still important they do so. Career development is often viewed as part of the psychological contract. Despite employees moving organisations, they still expect their skills and knowledge to be developed and recognised. Where this isn't done, employees can become disengaged and less productive. Career development can also be offered as part of an organisation's employee value proposition. When recruiting, organisations want the best talent; therefore, offering career development can attract high performers. During times of recession, career development can be offered to current employees instead of financial rewards, incentivising them with the ability to improve their employability. Further, in times of a recession, where redundancies occur, it is important for organisations to lose their poor performers to retain their leading potential. Offering career development is a way to do this. It can be argued that people and their knowledge are an organisation's competitive advantage (Boud and Garrick, 1999) and are the key to organisational wealth (Sveiby, 1997). By utilising career development, organisations can entice employees to stay. Finally, employees are often the glue in an organisation, ensuring that the culture and values are demonstrated and spread. Career development is a way to ensure talent is retained and progressed in an organisation, ensuring that this isn't lost.

    There are arguments against career development, including the cost; the fact that it doesn't focus enough on blue collar workers (Sullivan and Baruch, 2009) and the fact those not on a talent programme or who haven't been picked out for career development may become disengaged. However, there are many examples of where career development has been beneficial to organisations. Michelin have seen low turnover and relate it to their rigorous career development (although this is done in a very paternalistic, traditional way). Standard Life reflect Hirsch's (2003) model for career development through corporate managed initiatives (i.e. talent programmes, executive coaching, women's development networks, women in leadership programmes), core HR offerings (appraisals carried out between all managers and employees at least biannually) and support for self-managed careers (e-learning opportunities, self-study options at the bespoke learning zone, CIPD workshops). Because of this, Standard Life have recognised low turnover compared to the financial services norm and the engagement survey positively reflects the career commitment of its people.

    In conclusion, despite boundaryless careers becoming more common, organisations must invest in career development as it can help retain talent, reduce dis-engagement and help organisations use their people to give them a key competitive advantage.

    Examiner's comments

    Well-focused solid answer which draws well upon the research to support key arguments. Good attempt made in the answer to describe the context for contemporary careers and the rationale for investing in career development. Overall, the answer needs a more critical focus and some of the arguments could be sharper and more developed. That said, some useful arguments are made and advanced.

    Grade

    Mid-range Pass

    Answer 3

    Due to changing social, political and economic environment, notions of career have moved away from traditional paternalistic notions to new ones that reflect the changed environment. Boundaryless careers are one of these new notions and with its focus on independence from, rather than dependence on one organisation for a career would suggest that organisations may no longer be required to engage in career development. This view is challenged as looking at the environment and the different notions of careers this develops shows there is still a requirement to engage in employee career development to ensure engagement with the organisation, to attract employees and to achieve competitive advantage.

    Traditional notions of career were based upon economic growth and stability and job security. However, changes in the economic environment (recession, redundancies, technological advancement, globalisation and outsourcing) have resulted in undermining the basis of this concept. No longer are employees expected to have a job for life, but instead there are greater expectations of staff mobility and turnover. This has led to new notions of careers. Sullivan and Baruch (2009) however challenge whether this has really led to the end of traditional careers as little research has been done on populations such as immigrant and blue collar workers.

    Michelin, for example, continues to take a paternalistic, traditional approach to careers despite globalisation and expansion. Therefore, some organisations may be required to still engage in career development. Egan et al. (2006) in highlighting that career development is context and outcome based effectively highlight the need for organisations to be clear of their individual context and outcomes to understand to what level they need to engage in employee career development.

    However, much of the research has focused on the decline of traditional notions of career and as a result, new notions have arisen that take into account the changing environment. Boundaryless careers (Arthur and Rousseau, 1996) are one of these. Boundaryless careers are not dependent on one organisation (as in traditional notions of career) as employees are responsible for their own career development as a result of not being physically or psychologically tied to one organisation. This results in greater mobility (internal and external) and greater turnover. However, this is not the only career notion to develop. Others such as the protean career (Hall, 1996) where employees develop skills, capabilities to make them marketable to other employers also challenge the need for career development as organisations are faced with a more mobile, turnover-prone workforce who seek self-fulfilment from their career as well as other aspects of life.

    Investment in employee career development in these circumstances may therefore be ineffective as organisations are less likely to have long serving employees and therefore reap the rewards of the investment. This highlights the conflict of career development as employers want to retain employees and therefore may limit development whilst employees require/want under new notions of careers employability to ensure they are marketable.

    Fundamentally, whilst there are new notions of careers, these are restricted by challenges for employees such as not having the skills and capabilities to work for another employer and for not being able to quickly adapt to new work environments in order to perform (Sullivan and Baruch, 2009). This may limit staff mobility and turnover therefore putting the onus back on the organisation to engage in career development of employees so that their skills remain relevant and useful to the organisation.

    Although the economic environment has changed and challenged notions of career development for organisations, there are some factors that mean career development is still important. These are lessons from the 1990s recession, achieving competitive advantage and meeting changing employee expectations. Harrison (2009) highlights how a lesson that was learnt in the 1990s recession was that it was an organisation's cost not to invest in employee development during the tougher economic times (despite learning and development budgets often being the first to be cut for example as seen in the public sector – as competitors who invest will get ahead when the economy changes). This suggests that organisations should engage in career development even in tough economic times. Harrison also highlights the need for a flexible and adaptive workforce who are skilled and trained to ensure effectiveness of the organisation in turbulent economic times. Again, despite the potential for mobility and turnover, this highlights the need for employee career development.

    Rainbird (1995) states how competitive advantage be achieved through ensuring that employees have unique skills and capabilities that are difficult for competitors to replicate. As a result, organisations often focus on talent management (i.e. focus career development on high performing employees) such as in the case of Barclays who expanded their talent management programme to have a global focus. However, Harrison (2009) is critical of this approach stating that unless effectively integrated with career development of all employees, it can result in the effective disengagement of other employees. Moreover, this traditional approach to career development (for a select few in the organisation) highlights the conflict between employer and employee mentioned earlier. The employer invests in the employee, however this makes the employee more marketable outside the organisation and for the employee, depending on their individual notion of career, they may not be loyal to the organisation – i.e. boundaryless career.

    This motivation of individuals demonstrates how employee expectations of careers may have changed. This is due to many factors such as cost restricted organisations offering career development as an incentive for attraction and retention rather than pay and bonuses – as shown in Tesco's ‘Grow with us’ recruitment campaign. Also, the changing nature of the workforce (ageing workforce, dual-earning households, more women in the workforce) also provides a role for career development as whilst employees aren't tied to one organisation, their expectations of career development to achieve employability result in career development being a part of the psychological contract.

    An example of this is in the area of self-development. Boundaryless careers put the onus on the employee for self-development of their careers – however as shown in Hirsch's (2003) model, organisations still have a role to play in providing resources for self-development. For example, Nike (Harrison, 2009) have moved away from classroom based learning to self-development and Standard Life provides a learning zone which is a dedicated physical and online area for employee self-development. However, the effectiveness in the psychological contract is determined not only by the organisation providing resources, but also the time, commitment and support of this alternative form of employee career development.

    In summary, even with the advent of boundaryless careers and staff mobility and turnover, organisations as a result of a changing social, cultural and economic environment still engage in employee career development. In highlighting the hybrid career model (Sullivan and Baruch, 2009) show that there is, for some employees and organisations a rationale for achieving the upward mobility and development of traditional career notions, whilst also allowing for elements of boundaryless and protean careers.

    Examiner's comments

    This is an excellent answer. A very focused response to the question is given from start to finish. The student builds a series of strong arguments and demonstrates an excellent knowledge of the literature as well as a capability to explore tensions and debates. Some good examples of key concepts in practice are provided.

    Grade

    High Pass

    Question 2

    Ulrich (1998) argues that to deliver organisational excellence, the HRD function must:

    • Act as partners with senior and line management in strategy execution
    • Act as experts in the way work is organised and executed
    • Act as champions for employees
    • Act as agents of continuous organisational transformation

    Critically examine the strategic contributions being made by the HRD function in contemporary organisations through reference to Strategic HRD models and frameworks.

    Answer 1

    Garavan (1991) defines strategic human resource development as ‘the long term learning of employees, cultural complexity and strategic alignment’. With the new public reforms (NPM) of the 1980s, human resources (HR) as well as other administrative functions were to fundamentally change in the way in which they functioned. They now had to be seen as a service which would have to show their worth and value. But with the changes that evolved from the emergence of NPM, this completely shifted the traditional role of HRD to the line manager (Harrison, 2005). The convergence of the European Union (1980s) had an adverse effect as well as the impact of globalisation and technological advances.

    Globalisation and technology

    With the NPM and administrative reform, Information technology (IT) led at the forefront some would say. It moved at almost an alarming rate. Apple, Microsoft and other IT companies lead the way on innovation. Many forms of communication are now available 24 hours a day (e.g. Skype, Twitter and other social networks). HRD have moved away from its traditional role and the way in which it delivered it due to electronic changes. This meant a much more strategic approach was required. They now had to align their HRM strategy both vertically and horizontally, with other business strategies. With the strategic approach being now sought, a number of strategic human resource development (SHRD) models emerged.

    Models

    Garavan's (1991) model of nine SHRD characteristics covered the likes of culture, values, ethicism partnership etc. but was criticised as complicated. Nine years later, McCracken and Wallace (2000) introduced a replica of the model first introduced by Garavan in 1991. Well, what does that tell you? Either Garavan ‘nailed it’ or not much progress has been evidenced in the way in which the HRD delivery model functions.

    Peterson (2008) also introduced a SHRD model. Her model focused on partnership – a critical area with the shift of some of the traditional HRD functions to line managers emphasising the partnership approach now required. The most recognised model in modern business today is Ulrich's first introduced in 1997. Ulrich argued that to deliver organisational excellence, the GRD function must:

    Act as partners with senior and line management in strategy formulation and execution. Both HRD and line managers have a dual responsibility – therefore, they need to work together further emphasising partnership. This gives HRD people a real opportunity to work at the front line in the business and understand their needs. Learning is at the heart of the organisation that wants to enhance the employees’ capabilities and performance. However, line managers are questioning the need for HRD if they need to take on this function (Peterson, 2008).

    Act as experts in the way work is organised and executed. Unlike those staff in HRD classed as business partners, Ulrich has also recognised a need for certain skills that would still be necessary. He classed these as ‘centres of excellence’ – e.g. employment law, reward and recognition etc. Yet, these can be dependent on the size of the business. Relatively small companies don't have large HRD teams to enable this to be managed separately (Garavan, 2001). However, some companies may look to outsource these functions.

    Act as champions for employees. HRD can work alongside employees now, quite often hotdesking in the same area. They have the opportunity to build relationships and give them a ‘voice’ with management (Harrison, 2005). But it can sometimes be a fine line, almost like being devil's advocate. HR staff need to be careful in finding a balance that works for both employees and line managers.

    Act as agents of continuous organisational transformation. This is probably no different for HRD staff than any other part of the organisation. The world in which we now live in is one of globalisation, technology and innovation.

    Most organisations today will recognise Ulrich's three-legged stool. But it is not without criticism. It has been said it's time-consuming and only works in mid-to-large organisations (CIPD, 2012). Ulrich (2001) defends this through saying that ‘strategic changes take time’.

    HRD needs to provide its need, value and worth. By evaluation and measurement and perhaps through adopting a balanced scorecard approach (Kaplan and Norton, 2001), as this is recognised in organisations today and has a ‘people’ section. If they can prove their value, then maybe, just maybe they can achieve that much sought after recognition as a true business partner.

    Examiner's comments

    Quite a confused answer. The student muddles a number of areas (SHRD, HRM) as well as confusing the contributions of some authors. The student needs to be clearer on the importance contributions of SHRD models. NPM stands for New Public Management, rather than new public reforms. By focusing on new public management, you appear to be confining strategic HRD to the public sector and fail to fully recognise its important role in the private sector. Strategic HRD initiatives apply to both public and private sectors. The context for change (European Union, Technology, Globalisation) is briefly described. Similarly, there is insufficient detail on Peterson's contribution and no mention is made of Garavan's most recent (2007) HRD model.

    Grade

    Borderline Pass

    Answer 2

    In order to critically examine the contributions being made by the HRD function through reference to Strategic Human Resource Development models, it is first important to understand what strategic HRD is, why it is considered important and why it has evolved.

    Peterson (2008) outlines that strategic HRD is the long-term, proactive approach to HRM initiatives at both the individual and organisational level which impacts on bottom-line organisational goals and competitive advantage. It is considered that employee knowledge is what gives an organisation its competitive advantage, therefore learning and development departments have been criticised as being too short-term focused and not preparing employees for the changing global context in which we are now operating. Friedman's (2007) 11 global flatteners have identified the environment in which organisations now operate as a global one in which there is much competition due to the free movement of people, increased power of communities and the ability of organisations to work 24 hours a day around the world. HRD has responded to this with the rise of strategic HRD (SHRD) in which the goals of HRD help shape the strategy of an organisation to prepare for its internal and external environment.

    Garavan (1991) proposed 9 characteristics of SHRD. McCracken and Wallace (2000) were critical of this model as not being strategic enough in order to have real impact on the organisation. They proposed an advance of these 9 characteristics. We will consider these models now. In order for SHRD to be strategic, Garavan (1991) proposed that an organisation would need HRD plans and policies. McCracken and Wallace (2000) argued that these were required to be HRD strategies similar to Ulrich's model of Centres of Excellence/Experts. Peterson (2008) however critiques this and argues that we are in danger of role overload in HR/HRD asking what HRD superhuman can take on this level of work, pulling HRD specialists in too many ways, both operationally and strategically. Therefore, is it possible for a strategic contribution by the HRD function in light of such heavy operational requirements? Garavan (1991) felt that SHRD should expand the trainer role to be more than it is currently. McCracken and Wallace felt that the role of the trainer should be an organisational change agent. Similar to Ulrich's model (1997) in which he proposes that HRD perform an important role as agents of continuous organisational transformation. Such agents should work within the organisation in order to facilitate change in the organisation to adapt to its changing environment internally and externally, readying the organisation with knowledge and competitive advantage. Peterson (2008) however was critical of this arguing that change is often not strategic and is in fact operational and therefore argues that a more holistic approach must be taken to change. Therefore, it could be argued that SHRD is not able to make a strategic contribution to change through the role of change agents.

    Ulrich (1998) argues that in order to deliver organisational excellence, the HRD function must act as partners with senior and line management devolving some of HRD's activities to line management in order for it to be delivered throughout the organisation. Garavan (1999) also argued that line management should be involved in SHRD with McCracken and Wallace (2000) proposing that HRD should forge strategic partnerships with line management in order for the HRD function to make strategic contributions. Peterson (2008) is critical of this however arguing that this devolution to line management fragments the model and in order for the HRD function to add a strategic contribution, these roles need to be clearly outlined.

    In order to understand the strategic contribution being made by the HRD function in contemporary organisations, it is necessary to measure the ‘added value’. Garavan (2007) outlines that it is important to understand the contribution that SHRD has on the bottom line of the organisation, however Peterson (2008) is critical that this is possible. Ulrich (2007) outlines that value is perceived in the view of the receiver and not the giver. He argues that a multi-stakeholder approach is one which is best in order to assess the added value and therefore, the contribution of the HRD function to contemporary organisations. Peterson (2008) however argues that the models of SHRD only address two of these multi-stakeholders: employees and line management and that external stakeholders are not considered (shareholders and customers in particular). Therefore, it is not possible to measure the added value of SHRD accurately and therefore difficult to examine the strategic contribution being made by HRD.

    Westpac Bank is a case study in which you can see an example of SHRD which uses the Ulrich model. Through a centre of expertise in learning and development, they have changed the culture of learning away from classroom style to one in which learning is inherent with the employees’ everyday job. Through working with line managers, learning and development have managed to bring learning into everyday roles shaping the culture of the organisation and forming the strategic direction of the organisation through the learning of employees. SHRD is integrated both horizontally and vertically working across a number of departments to lead the strategy of the organisation. Lee (2006) proposed a 6-point scale of SHRD maturity within organisations, with 1 being strategy led and informed by SHRD and 6 being no systemic approach to HRD. This is an example of how SHRD can make a strategic contribution to an organisation through HRD, using SHRD frameworks and models.

    Garavan (2007) states that in order for the HRD function to make a strategic contribution within contemporary organisations, there must be 5 underlying assumptions: firstly, its goals must be aligned with that of the organisations and the HRM strategy – this is seen in the Westpac case study. Second, it must be involved in environmental scanning both internally and externally. Third, it must be integrated with HRM policies. Fourth, it must be owned by a number of areas in the organisation – for example, not just HRD, but also line managers and senior leadership in order for it to add real value: this is seen in Ulrich's model of business partners. Fifth, it must add real value to the organisation and must be measurable.

    In conclusion, in order for the HRD function to make a strategic contribution in contemporary organisations, it is important to consider Garavan's (2007) five underlying assumptions as well as the context in which the organisation operates. Through the use of various models (Garavan, 1991; McCracken and Wallace, 2000; Ulrich, 1998), it is possible to consider the role that HRD can play in adding a strategic contribution. Peterson (2008) however is critical of this and argues that with many complex models, it is still difficult to define what contributions SHRD can make.

    Examiner's comments

    Very solid answer that produces a good synthesis of the contributions of the models and criticisms of them. You conduct a good comparison across the three models (Garavan, 1991; McCracken and Wallace, 2000; Peterson, 2008) albeit, you could elaborate further on Garavan's (2007) contribution. That said, you have a good working knowledge of how each of the Strategic HRD models arose as well as the criticisms levelled at these models. Good case example provided (Westpac Bank), with solid examination of strategic HRD in practice.

    Grade

    Mid-range Pass

    Answer 3

    Due to changes in the working environment, including globalisation, advances in technology and fragmented markets, companies need to keep their competitive advantage in order to survive. This has led to a call for HRD to add more value to the business. This is in line with HRM adding more value as more and more companies convert to Ulrich's business partner model to structure their HR departments. As the move to HR becoming more strategic in nature, HRD now also needs to do the same. This has given rise to the concept of strategic HRD (SHRD), which views learning and development as an investment in people rather than a cost to the business. Various authors have written on this topic and introduced SHRD models and frameworks. However, it is important to look closely at these models in order to understand what is happening in practice. This essay will explain some of the key SHRD models and what they are trying to achieve. This will then be critically analysed with what is happening in reality, in order to assess whether SHRD is delivering excellence through Ulrich's framework.

    SHRD was brought to organisations’ attention in 1991 when Garavan introduced the 9 characteristics a company should possess in order to work in a SHRD nature. The key agenda of SHRD is to add value to the business by investing in the core competencies of employees to ensure their talent is unique and cannot be mimicked by competitors. This will give a company the competitive advantage it needs to have an impact on the bottom line. In order to do this, Garavan (1991) states that HRD must be integrated into the company's overall strategy, be supported by senior management and there must be a correlation with HRM. Furthermore, it is essential that environmental scanning takes place with HRD being the focus. These are some of the characteristics that Garavan introduced in 1991. However, almost a decade later, McCracken and Wallace (2000) refined these 9 characteristics in order to demonstrate how HRD can truly become strategic in nature. For example, instead of HRD being integrated with strategy, they suggest that it should shape the strategy, through focusing on the skills and competencies of their employees. They refine all 9 characteristics in a similar way, for example instead of senior management support, they suggest it should be senior management leadership and that the environmental scanning should be carried out by senior management with HRD being at the centre. McCracken and Wallace (2000) refining of what SHRD is, ensures that HRD is a key stakeholder in strategy implementation and therefore sitting high on Lee's (1996) scale of SHRD maturity. The characteristics of McCracken and Wallace's refinement of SHRD form the basis of their model which puts their characteristics in the SHRD section, whereas Garavan (1991) is described as HRD. This would suggest that Garavan's (1991) model now sits much lower on Lee's (1996) scale – with HRD being placed at level 3, i.e. integrated with strategy but in a reactive nature. Learning and development is called into question after the strategy has been implemented instead of being at the formation stage.

    In 2007, Garavan extended his work on SHRD in response to the literature that was presented after 1991. Not only did McCracken and Wallace (2000) introduce a new view of the topic, but various other SHRD models were introduced, for example Harrison's six critical factors and Grieves’ work. All of the models are very similar, with true SHRD being place at the level where it can shape organisational strategy. Garavan's (2007) new model describes SHRD as the ‘coherent, vertically aligned and horizontally integrated set of learning and development practices that contribute to the organisation's strategy’. The new model is based on four levels of context, both external and internal. It then suggests how HRD needs to react to the context in order to contribute strategically to the organisation. The focus on alignment is essential to Garavan's (2007) model as this is how HRD interacts with key stakeholders in strategy formulation. The horizontal nature of integration is also important as it suggests that the relationships between HRD and line managers are crucial to working in a strategic manner.

    Garavan's (2007) model takes account of Ulrich's (1998) framework for delivering excellence and adding value. This is part of the ‘SHRD orientation’ phase in the model. HRD can position itself in a traditional or employee-focused role, however Ulrich points out that this is operational in nature and will unlikely result in working strategically. However, if HRD takes the strategic partner or change agent orientation, then it will add value to the business by focusing on the strategic aspects of learning and development, such as talent management and succession planning. This also ties in with Lepak et al.'s (2005) domains of HRD – transactional, traditional and transformational. It is argued that transactional learning and development will never add value to the business and strategic HRD operates on the spectrum between traditional to transformational learning and development practices. By working towards transformational HRD, then Ulrich's (1998) framework will succeed and HRD will become strategic in nature and have an impact on the bottom line.

    However, although the models presented explain what HRD needs to do in order to become strategic and add value, there are criticisms that must be addressed. Peterson (2008) criticises Garavan's (2007) model. It is suggested that although Garavan has tried to make the model exhaustive, the external and internal influences could render the model too complex to operationalise or test. It is further argued that despite the numerous models introduced, it is still unclear what SHRD actually is or how it can be achieved. Furthermore, it is not addressed as to whether or not HRD is strategic or not actually matters. It is also worth noting that although ‘alignment’ is a key feature in the SHRD models, there is little empirical evidence that the SHRD models that have been introduced are great in theory, but with little substance in reality. McCracken and Wallace (2000) undertook some further research in order to understand the reality of SHRD. During a study of various organisations from various sectors, it was found that Garavan's (1991) characteristics of SHRD were prominent; however, very little of McCracken and Wallace's refined characteristics were present in companies. The main issue being line management support, which struggled to exist in Garavan's terms, let alone a strategic relationship with line managers as McCracken and Wallace suggested. It was also interesting to see that within the companies that rated themselves as high on the HRD maturity scale (Lee, 1996), the evidence in reality suggested that they were much lower. Furthermore, the CIPD (2007) survey found that only a third of training and learning managers felt that learning and development implications were considered at strategy formation level and of half of the organisations surveyed, HRD was not seen as a key stakeholder in strategy formation. This has further emphasised in recent years due to the economic climate, training budgets have been slashed, which would suggest that HRD is still seen as a ‘cost’ to the business, rather than an investment.

    In conclusion, Ulrich's framework of how HRD can add value is backed with various SHRD models, which puts HRD in the strategy formation stage and a key stakeholder within the business. By achieving this, companies can invest in their current core competencies, giving them a competitive advantage and thus having an impact on the bottom line. However, the models presented have been criticised for being overly complex and not in line with what is happening in reality. It seems that in theory the models presented are the way forward for businesses, however it appears that HRD is still fighting for its position to shape the business strategy and the recent economic downturn has only highlighted HRD as still being viewed as a cost to the business, rather than an investment. Although the CIPD (2012) survey suggests an increase in focus on talent management, etc., the numbers are still low, so HRD has a long journey before becoming truly strategic in nature.

    Examiner's comments

    Excellent answer. Focused, clear, lucid and well executed. Opening paragraph provides an excellent synthesis of the background to strategic HRD. You show an excellent awareness of criticisms of the SHRD models and how these relate to Ulrich's framework. You also display a good understanding of how SHRD works in practice with reference to some good sources. The answer presented is well framed and takes a high-level overview of the SHRD landscape charting developments in this area of HRD and explaining why these developments took place.

    Grade

    High Pass

    Conclusion

    Performing well in HRD examinations requires careful planning and an ability to produce thoughtful, critical answers under time-restrictive conditions. Students should ensure that they construct an outline structure to their answer beforehand, ensuring that key arguments are built comprehensively and supported with reference to both research contributions and practice-based examples. It also helps to keep the student focused in their work and less likely to drift down interesting, but largely irrelevant cul-de-sacs. At its core, students are expected to demonstrate a good awareness and understanding of the key theories and concepts and a capability to critically assess the continued relevance of these concepts to organisational practice.

    It is worth remembering that good examination technique is something that can be practised and perfected over time. Recalling particular authors and research contributions will require detailed reading and an ability to trace the development of an area of HRD over time. Students should not be afraid to critique the contributions of key authors, provided that they can substantiate their arguments through reference to other research and/or practice. Finally, on a personal level, I wish you every success in your HRD examination and hope this appendix has been helpful to you in your examination preparation.

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