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In comparison with other related terms like HRM (human resource management), empowerment and learning organisations, HRD (human resource development) is a new concept which is yet to be fully accepted and established in professional practice or academic enquiry.
Human resource development includes all those activities and processes which are intended to have an impact on individual and organisational learning. This definition is based on the assumption that organisations can be constructively envisioned as learning entities and learning process of both individuals and organisation can be influenced and directed through planned and premeditated interventions. In other words, planned interventions in learning process of organisations and individuals constitute human resource development process. The nature of interventions in HRD can and does vary. Three of the most commonly used interventions in HRD are education, training and development. In most cases specific methods and activities can be allocated to one of these three categories. Just the application and use of a particular method alone would not constitute HRD. What is also critical is the level at which the method is applied or the extent to which it is intended to have impact on organisational and individual learning. Although many educational, training and development activities are designed to maintain the status quo, researchers Jim Stewart and Jim McGoldrick strongly feels that use of the term HRD implies a deliberate purpose of changing the behaviour of organisations or improving the capability for change. According to them, one of the defining features of HRD is the extent to which interventions in learning process are intended to facilitate organisational change. The scope of HRD is broad as it is closely associated with strategy and practice of training and development environment. The field of HRD also draws reflections from an exhaustive range of literature: from corporate strategy to personnel management and from organisational analysis to the sociology and psychology of workplace behaviour. A wide range of themes and issues from managerial consciousness to the role of the action learning set and from the design of work organisations to the development needs of non employees can also be addressed by HRD. (Stewart and McGoldrick)
Human Resource Management and its nature
In order to clearly understand the relationship between the HRD and HRM, it is necessary that a few of the arguments surrounding the concept of HRM are examined. One of the arguments is that, although HRM is broadly focussed on managing people, it also involves the policy, procedure and processes related to it. This characteristic can be identified as the personnel management functional dimension of HRM. Another view on HRM is that HRM is linked to the company performance as well as individual which makes it holistic and strategic in nature. The strategic nature of HRM is further strengthened by the view of Miller who views HRM as involving all decisions and actions on management of people which create and sustain competitive advantage; which is directly or indirectly based on corporate strategy. Thus, HRM inhibits a field which is strategic in its orientation yet has to deal with the mundane and the routine work. In other words HRM is not only strategic, but is also practical and functional. The functional integration of HRM with personnel function is evident as more or more organisations are increasingly decentralising and empowering the roles of line managers. In reality, HRM has a wide agenda – vision, strategy, integration, quality, flexibility, attitudes and values. (Stewart and McGoldrick)
Much of the early literature of HRM has focussed on the areas of personnel and industrial relations. Although recent studies indicate that there is a space emerging for HRM. Growing number of researches in the areas of employee involvement and increased number of literature on empowerment indicate a shift in the focus from the traditional industrial relation issues.
Human Resource Development and Its nature
If the roots of HRD are taken to derive from the literature and practice of organisational development (OD) as well as from training and development education and practise per se, it is evident that HRD has as long and distinguished history as that of personnel management. The finding of American Society of Training and Development’s research into HRD practise strengthens the argument that HRD encompasses Organisational Development (OD).Many conceptual and empirical studies conducted in US also supports the view that HRD is concerned with both organisational and individual learning. (Stewart and McGoldrick)
Thus HRD in common with HRM is strategic, functional, and practical and process oriented. It can be argued that Training and development which can be termed as traditional, focuses attention on activities which are the concern of professional practitioners and which reflect operational and urgent needs. Incorporation of OD within HRD indicates organisational renewal and growth through processes which engage all organisation members and are managed, efficiently or in- efficiently by members of the same organisation. In other words, HRD constitute activities which can be represented as interventions in organisational and individual learning. OD also represents a particular approach to organising and managing which emphasis on humanistic values instead of the economic rationalism of scientific management. In this way the concepts of HRD has similarity with the soft and hard HRM theories. HRD also implies concerns with the notions such as leadership, culture and commitment. Thus the practise of HRD is inextricably linked to that of HRM through the strategic implications each has for long term survival. (Stewart and McGoldrick)
Technology, global market, customer expectations and competition have created a need to achieve ‘high performance work’ environment which generates high value added products and services for the customers. Such high performance work set up can be created only through trust and commitment from enthusiastic employees. One of the highlight of such an approach is the importance given to learning throughout the organisation and the concept that learning is the only strategy to cope with change. There is also increased emphasis on the principle that an organisation should be seen as total learning system and its core competency should be discovered so that collective learning process is revealed. The continuing advances made in the areas of information and communication technology have fostered e learning which have resulted in growing interest in the organisation learning and management, knowledge management, intellectual capital of an organisation and the learning between organisations (Bratton and Gold).
With the creation of high performance working, as a result of high skills and high discretion in the performance of work, there is an increase in the decentralisation of decision making. Associated with such a view is the significance given to learning, especially within self – managed teams where the team members are able to define their own learning needs. (Gold et)
In most of the HRM formulations, training, employee development and other learning activities of an organisation represent a significant part of HRD provision. Ashton and Felstead suggests that the investment by an organisation in the skills of employees is a litmus test for a change in the way they are managed. Of all the different HR practices required for a high road HRM strategy, HRD has a pivotal role in the integration of practices to create an internal labour market with the links to organisational structure and strategy. (Gold et)
The key elements of organisation context that will prevent and limit the design of HRM policies and their implementation are the lack of support of leaders and senior managers and the absence of a culture that reinforces HRM. This leads to two important implications. First, employees are hired for a skilled job role that will require learning and change, rather than a work role that might soon become obsolete. In order to remain employable, employees are expected to retain and continue learning by undertaking self study courses. Therefore employees are not only selected for the skills they posses, but also for their ability to learn. Once selected, they become worth investing in. The second implication is that line managers are fully involved in the development of their subordinates to the extent that there is virtually no difference between learning and working. As a result there is a emphasis on informal learning and appreciation of its value by line managers. It is this acceptance of responsibility by the line managers that carries the potential to produce the outcome of loyalty, flexibility, quality and commitment. HRD acts as triggering mechanism for the progression of other HRM policies aimed at recruiting, retaining and rewarding employees, who are recognised as the most valuable assets to organizations. (Bratton and Gold)
HRD strategy cannot exist in the absence of corporate and business strategy and the purpose of HRD strategy is to support and serve business strategy. This means that top managers in an organisation sets out a vision and mission for an organisation and develop corporate goals. The business strategy and functional strategy which includes HRD are derived from these organisational goals. In other words there is a liner and static process for formulating HRD plan which will lead to the achievement of business strategy and which in turn contributes to achievement of the corporate strategy. (Gold et)
The literature on Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that there are existing models linking competitive strategy and HRD policies. These models argue that Strategic Human Resource Development as a component of SHRM is centred on the concepts of fitment between competitive strategy and HR practise. According to this model there is a difference between internal fit and external fit. The idea of external fit deals with how an organisation mobilises all its resources to compete in external environment. Internal fit is usually associated with the implementation of strategic goals and policies and the degree of match between the stated intent like vision and mission of an organisation with the actual behaviour and performance at an operational level. Some of the typologies of HR policies developed for strategic fit are quality, innovation and cost reduction. Sometimes the same organisation in diversified product and services market may also apply different competitive strategy. The recent advances made in the international human resources management underlines the need for transnational labour mobility and competency needed for international managers to adopt to their host country and later implement this in their home country. In today’s global economy the concept of learning, transfer of knowledge and intellectual capital is as vital as leveraging competencies and sensitivity to local market conditions. Therefore SHRD relates to policies and practices which are derived from organisational strategy leading to competitive advantage in domestic and international market. The extent to which an organisation’s HRD practices helps in differentiating the work force competency with its competitors by transferring learning across the organisation would help the organisation in having competitive advantage over its competitors.
As the means of improving performance and organisational effectiveness, Strategic Human Resource Development has become an important element of HRM. Thus HRD is considered as a critical factor which is positively connected to productivity, development of product, market share and sales growth. Some other studies also indicate that investment in training leads to higher profits. Increase in training also results in lower labour turnover. Hence Training has a positive effect on relationship between employees and management.
In order to improve the quality of product and service, devolution of authority and responsibility is required at the lower level of employment. New challenges have been created for HRD with the changes in organisational design, de-layered structures, and flexible work practices and multi-skilling. The strategic part of HRD originates from new work processes driven by product market, technological, organisation and work process redesign. Work reorganisation to achieve performance objectives provide the link between training and development practices and strategic intent. In this strategic view, Training need analysis focuses on identifying the required competencies at individual. work organisation , team and leadership level. Systematic and structural change following strategic plans and initiatives create specific HRD needs. Greater mobility among organisation reduces trade union inputs to t he HRD plans and policies which puts extra pressure on the state to provide education and training at national and sectoral level.
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