Closing session The future of HRD research - strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and actions

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Statements by the panel group
Jim Stewart, Nottingham Trent University, UK

1. Well established outlets for research
2. Growing maturity in the work
3. Growing relationships with practice
1. Esoteric argument
2. Focus on organisations as locus of HRD practice
3. Insularity, both geographic and conceptual
1. Recognition of HRD’s importance
2. Growth in (inter)national collaborative research
3. Area of international HRD
1. Too little attention to needs of practitioners
2. Academic space and standing
3. New blood needed for HRD research
1. UFHRD and AHRD to support international partnerships/ HRD
2. Raise standing and status of HRD research / journals
3. Increase relationships with practice

Lidewey van der Sluis, Free University Amsterdam, Netherlands

1. Besides learning from ‘best practices’ benchmarking of ‘worst practices’ is also valuable for organizational development
2. Learning from failures contributes more to HRD and organizational development and change than learning from success does

Jamie Callahan, Texas A&M University, USA

Gazing into the Crystal Ball (>>> full text)

- Organizational interests dominate HRD practice and scholarship
- Emerging voices challenge us to question the interests served by HRD interventions
- Disengagement  <---> Transformation
- Future: Constructivist Critical HRD

Joseph Kessels, University of Twente, Netherlands

  • HRD research should reflect the diversified field of HRD practice.
  • Instead of striving for a longitudinal and deep investigation into a “Grand Strategy” (Schwab, 1978),
  • based on exploration, description, correlation, experimenting and theory building,
  • it might be more fruitful to encourage researchers to follow their personal interests and curiosity, and accept a research attitude,
  • characterised by “disciplined eclecticism” (Shulman, 1986).
  • The expanding diversity in research topics and approaches, should not be regarded as a weakness of HRD but as a rich landscape for sense making and meaning.

Victoria Marsick, Columbia University, USA

> Care about practice
> “Broker” role
> Take interdisciplinary view of problems and solutions
> Access to organizations enables relevant studies on critical problems
> Strategic learning focus (individual/organizational)
> BUT which customer view?
Distorting/partial lens?
> BUT language of business?
> BUT academia based on silos: will it get you tenure?
> BUT studies may be: confidential, PR’d, “unique”…vs. meta-analyses
> BUT does tight focus reduce slack, lead to tunnel vision, core rigidities?
Action: Reframe the way we think about our role in practice (our values and interests vs. those of many customers) and academia (how to value interdisciplinary view)

Source HRD Conference Tilburg 2006: Agenda of closing session in 'Conference programme and abstracts' (p 7) and text of the panel slides on conference home page (pdf download).
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO