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Outline Issue of the European perspective of HRD

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  European perspective of HRD (overall features)
 
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  The following features of HRM have been identified as typically 'European' in comparison to the USA: 
  • more restricted employer autonomy;
  • less stress in free-market processes;
  • less emphasis on the individual with more on the group;
  • greater focus on workers rather than management;
  • increased role of 'social partners' in the employment relationship;

  • higher levels of government intervention or support in many areas of HRM [R02].
Similar features have turned out to be priorities of HRD in large European companies:
  • 'high skill-level workers' as the backbone of the enterprise; 
  • important role of collective trade union representation; 
  • influence of national government support frameworks [R09].
At the same time, growing tensions in European HRM/ HRD policies and practice have been observed:
  • HRM in Europe needs to be analysed in a context which witnesses competing forces of economic, social and business integration and disintegration coupled with complex patterns of both convergence and divergence in management practice [R02].
  • HRM/ HRD policies are faced with the challenge of promoting lifelong learning for everybody at work while building a strong and sustainable economy [R03]. The challenging role of lifelong learning strategies has been emphasised in several projects: HRD & LLL [E04a], IFC [E05a], NEWSKILLS [E07c], WEX21C [E11b]  and WORKTOW [E13a].
An overview of HRD practices in Europe has highlighted the following features:
  • HRD perceived as an umbrella related to learning of adults in various contexts (profession, work, voluntary work, political engagement and citizenship);
  • merger between vocational education and HRD related activities in companies;
  • consensus or controversy among social partners having a supporting or inhibiting effect on joint HRD activities;
  • impact of cultural differences between countries and regions in Europe on activities for learning and development;
  • development of HRD benefiting from EU and national support for lifelong learning [R04].
The breadth of the HRD agenda in Europe is marked by: a much more 'fuzzy' concept than is understood within the USA; a wide range of research designs and methodologies; a critically reflective discourse; and a focus on the environmental conditions of learning rather than on formal instruction [R06].

Different approaches in the USA and the UK have been identified with regard to the academic curriculum and professional structure of HRM/ HRD [R05], [V22]. An international comparison of HRD definitions has confirmed the impact of national culture on the perception and practice of HRD [R18].

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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO