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  • 61Resource Development: Trends, Opportunities...

    Resource Development: Trends,Opportunities and Challenges

    Pradeep Kautish*

    Globalisation and liberalisation of economies around theworld surfaced as a primary trend affecting organisationsacross boundaries and thus the domain of HRD. The issuessuch as general competencies for HR with flair of competitiveadvantage, strategic interface, standards of practice,certification/credentialing, ethics and integrity woulddetermine the success of HR in future (Torraco and Swanson,1995). Learning will be the most differentiating factor forthe organisations in times to come. The changes in globalmarket dynamics, technology and the structure of labourhave made organisations more complex, dynamic andknowledge based. This requires the HRD profession tounderstand the work dynamics, the composition of work force,diversity and the seemingly interpersonal relationshipnetworks, the fluctuating market indices and complex mindsetof knowledge workers towards learning, career patterns andsocial mobility. This article explores the domain of HRD,ethical framework, emerging trends, future challenges andthe agenda for research in the context of human resourcedevelopment domain and the complex patterns of work andemployment for next generation reforms in the field.

    HRD Practices inContemporary Industries

    EditorsP. Surjith Kumar

    N. PanchanathamPublished by Global Vision Publishing House

    * Assistant Professor, Jaipuria Institute of Management, Plot No: 1, BambalaInstitutional Area, Pratap Nagar, Sanganer, Tonk Road, Jaipur- 302033,Rajasthan.

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    Introduction

    HRD as a profession is passing through a critical phase sinceits inception and inclusion as a major discipline in managementsciences. One of the biggest concerns about the HRD profession isits receptiveness and ability to adjust to changing environmentalconditions in organizations. Globalisation surfaced as a primarytrend affecting organizations and thus HRD in realm of cross culturalcommunication, diverse management and competitiveness withbusiness value propositions (Metcalfe and Rees, 2005; Sklair, 2001;Sparrow et al., 2004). There are many issues to consider includingcrossing boundaries of time, space, geography and culture, economicissues, culture clash, working virtually, coping with increasedbureaucracy and exploitation issues arising out of countries withfewer restrictions. The implications of globalisation include a needfor the profession to better understand and integrate interculturalpractices into global organization, rather than assuming myopicapproach in imposing one sided view on people across cultures.McLagan and Suhadolnik (1989) have identified fifteen functionalroles (such as marketer, change agent and evaluator, etc.) andproposed models that related to the contribution people made toHRD objectives. Gilley and Eggland (1989) simplified these roles tofour, the manager, the learning specialist, the instructional designerand the consultant. HRD must also reflect deeply about the effectsof globalisation on all aspects of work and culture then proceed indeveloping specific methods for workplace learning andorganisational change. The changes in global market dynamics,technology and the structure of labour have created work, i.e.,much more complex, abstract and knowledge based.

    This requires the HRD professionals to understand the workdynamics, the composition of work force and the seeminglyinterpersonal relationship networks, the fluctuating market indicesand the complex mindset of knowledge workers towards learning,career pattern and social mobility. Organisations will increasinglyneed to operate and compete for customers on a worldwide scale.They will need to use global sourcing of human resources, capital,

  • 63Resource Development: Trends, Opportunities...

    technology, facilities, resources and raw materials. Organisationsare finding that they require the HR policies and processes thatembody a global culture, yet recognise local differences. Globalcapabilities as well as local cultural sensitivity to employees, customersand patterns will become critical to success of the organisation.The global local balancing act also involves need for members ofthe organisation to feel that they belong to a global enterprise andyet feel accountable for their contributions in a more local sense(Ulrich & Smallwood, 2002). In the backdrop of globalisation andits impact on HRD profession and practices, this article will criticallyexamine the domain, emerging trends in HR, ethical issues, challengestherein and the agenda for research in future in subsequent sections.

    Literature Review

    Herling (2000, p.20) defined human expertise as displayedbehavior within a specialized domain or a related in the form ofconsistently demonstrated actions of an individual that are bothoptimally efficient in their execution and effective in their results.The term Human Resource Development was introduced byLeonard Nadler in Miami Conference of American Society ofTraining and Development (ASTD) in the year 1969. As an applicationoriented discipline, HRD requires sound theory to be backed bysystematic theory building as well as confirmation in practice(Lynham, 2002). Swanson and Holton (2001) defined HRD is aprocess of developing and unleashing human expertise throughorganization development (OD) and personnel training anddevelopment (T&D) for the purpose of improving performance.HRD, as a profession, has a choice about how to address thepresent realities, trends and future challenges. Historically, HRD hasbeen focused on the issues related to workers development concernslike training and career development (McLagan, 1989; Miller, 1996;Sammut, 2001). HRD is primarily focused on complex phenomenasurrounding people functioning and management in organisations,HRD practitioner cannot be satisfied with the common erroneousidea of research that exists apart from practice (Swanson, 2003).

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    Some time this connection is confused with the popular ideasof theory-in-practice or theory-in-action (Argyris, 1994). HRD as afield of academic study is relatively recent and primarily of Americanorigin (Metcalfe and Rees, 2005). HRD has expanded beyond trainingand development to corporate strategy interface, individual, teamand organisational learning, career development and planning andknowledge management with intellectual capital (Walton, 1996;Walton, 1999a; Walton, 1999b, Walton, 2001). HRD professionalscan either be too possessive towards their identity or risk thelegitimacy of their existence by alienating themselves from the realitiesof fluctuating environmental responses to the world of business.HRDs sphere of interest and intended impact has been expandedfrom the individual level to encompass teams and organisationallevels moved from a focus on the performance of tasks toencompass the effectiveness of processes and systems. Thesechanges have happened at a time when organisations increasinglyseek links between learning and performance and view knowledgeand learning as key differentiators between themselves andcompetitors. Herein, the focus shifts from the outcome dynamicsto the baseline approach of HRD and its professional domain andadaptability with the changing circumstances. Nadler (1970) coinedthe term HRD in the late 1960s to differentiate between training,development and education three separate activities undertaken byemployees within as organisational setting. McLagan, (1989) andMcLagan & Suhadolnik, (1989) expanded it to include those aspectsof organisational life that have development as their primary focusand accordingly incorporates training and development, careerdevelopment and organisation development within its remit. Walton(1999) argued that the domain of HRD as a body of practice andfield of study has historically been primarily concerned with securingan organisations skill base which has been extended far beyondthese original parameters to incorporate an array of approaches toindividual, organisational and even societal learning. Ruona et al(2003) highlighted the dilemma pertaining to the HRD professionand its inability to identify its core competencies and competitiveadvantages.

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    The major stumbling blocks before the profession include itsinability to define and differentiate itself with respect to otherprofessions especially those which are highly related. The need ofthe hour is to identify general competencies, standards of practice,certification/credentialing and increased use of the AHRD standardson ethics and integrity (AHRD, 1999). McGuire et al. (2002)highlighted the culturally binding nature of HRD literature, researchand practice. The domain of HRD is shifting from a reliance onbehaviourism to a broader more transformative conception oflearning, spurred in past by the need for continuous learning in theworkplace, requiring informal and incidental learning strategies.Indeed, applying a resource-based theory to HRD would advocatethe value of skill formation arising from tacit knowledge, action-centered learning, learning from mistakes, learning by doing and asa byproduct of other activities into daily work routines that makesthem resource mobility barriers because competitors will findthem difficult to imitate. Walton (2001) pointed out, in HRD thereare many alternative discourses by which the domain has beeninterpreted, reflecting different fields of interest and targets forinvestigation, each competing for contested space, and representingdifferent levels generality. He provided the following examples ofcompeting discourage that has affected HRD during the years,presented as a series of either or questions.

    Is HRD a subset of HRM or an independent- albeit linked domain?

    Is HRD a synonym for training and development orsomething broader?

    Is HRD concerned exclusively with adult learning or withlearning from cradle to grave?

    Is HRD concerned with the acquisition of expertise or withlearning in the round?

    Is HRD concerned primarily with individual learning ororganisational performance?

    Is HRD a body of practice or an academic field of study?

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    Is HRD concurred exclusively with international learningprocesses or does it incorporate accidental learningprocesses?

    Is HRD, an extension of training and development with aspecific orientation toward organisational learninginterventions designed to improve skills, knowledge andunderstanding, or does it have wider, more holistic originsfocusing on the interplay of global, national, organisationaland individual needs? (Stead and Lee, 1996).

    The work of Gilley and Egglund (1989) brings out thecontradictions inherent in adopting a purely instrumental, employerand performance driven position. They argued that calling peoplehuman resources indicates an instrumental and asset basedresources with similar connotations to financial resources andcapital resources.

    Emerging Trends

    As stated earlier, the forces of globalisation has altered thedomain of each profession including HRD. The churning which istaking place at all levels in post modern organisation, vis--vis theenvironmental uncertainties affecting the mode of business hasredoubtable implications on HRD. The uncertainties which will bediscussed subsequently serve as drivers of change for organisationalrestructuring and renewal. Chermack et al. (2003) have identifiedsix major uncertainties confronting HRD which are listed in thefollowing order:

    Competition for the expertise elite. Globalisation. Locus of control - organisations or individuals. Marketability of Knowledge. Next age. Technological explosion.HRD professionals also have an important opportunity to validate

    their role in developing human resources. HRDs traditional role in

  • 67Resource Development: Trends, Opportunities...

    developing expertise in human and organisations is becoming evermore important (Burke, 1995; Eichinger and Ulrich, 1998) and thedemand for HRD interventions that provide a consistent and increasingdemonstration of return on investment can be expected to rise(Hodgets et al, 1999). The role of HRD may face drastic change inthe face of an almost wholly individualistic workforce managingand creating their own space in organisations.

    HRD may be required to accommodate an increasingly modularcustom base, providing a variety of skill based training andknowledge sharing and do so while aligning all of them with strategicorganisational processes. The dynamic and turbulent businesslandscape calls for better competitive advantage flair initiatives fromHR processes and systems at place. To add greater competitiveadvantage in organizational development, HR must devise strategicvalue proposition for all stake holders and with cost effectiveness.Brockbank (1999) has suggested that HR can add strategic valueeither reactively or proactively. In its strategically reactive mode,HR assumes the existence of a business strategy and adds value bylinking HR practices to the business strategy and by managingchange. In its strategically proactive mode, HR creates competitiveadvantage by creating cultures of creativity and innovation, byfacilitating mergers and acquisitions, and by linking internal processesand structures with ongoing changes in the marketplace (Brockbank,1999). The strategic importance of HRD to organisationalperformance has been increasingly underscored (Brockbank, 1999;Grieves and Redman, 1999). Wilkerson (1997) reported, from anMIT study, that 90% of HR related costs were found to be relatedto administrative and service delivery whereas, 10% are found to bedevoted to strategy, organisation development, and executive trainingand development the things that are perceived by organisations tohave the most value. The requirements for generating sharing andmanaging organizationally relevant knowledge in technologicallydemanding workplace will provide an increasing role and pressurefor HRD. However, it is likely that those priorities will be set by theengagement of HRD professionals in addressing a variety of

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    uncertainties in the environment. Kuchinke (2003) identified fewcontingency factors such as HRD structure and staffing, HRDservices and product HRD planning, delivery and evaluation whichwould determine the success of HRD in changing environmentwhich are explained in the following lines.

    (a) The structure and staffing of HRD in organisations will beinfluenced by industry characteristics, including technical,regulatory and institutional and by organisation size.

    (b) Organisations will have to decide on investment in HRDbased on cost benefit considerations and weigh investmentin HRD products and services against other forms ofbuilding, maintaining and increasing human capital. Givenuncertain returns on investment, organizations will investconservatively in HRD and focus on system...