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Subject An overriding model of HRD?
Context The discussion summarised below is related to the presentations made by Gary McLean on HRD models in the United States and by Joseph Kessels on perspectives of HRD in Europe.
Discussion Participants: Joseph Kessels (JK), Monica Lee (ML), Graem Martin (GM), Gary McLean (GMc) and others (XX) 

[GM:] Both speakers have said that it's really very difficult and actually not desirable to look for a common theory or a common paradigm of HRD. Perhaps the best we could get to is to have multiple paradigms which are more or less useful for what we are trying to do.
[GMc:] I agree. My observation is that there are people in the US who would really like a unified theory. My position is that this is not going to happen, it can't happen, for all of the reasons that have been said. What I see happening is that we are moving towards a better understanding of very near areas, like assessment, training and evaluation.
[JK:] There is still a difference between 'it is not feasible' or whether it would be necessary. 
[GMc:] I say it's not needed, but there are certainly colleagues of mine who would disagree with that. I do want to be very clear - I am not speaking for the US or the Academy in the US! 
It's very interesting to see what emerges. The Academy of HRD has launched a new journal called HRD Review, with its sole purpose of looking at the development of theory within the area of HRD. I think how these manuscripts emerge will say a great deal about where we are as a field around these very issues. 
[JK:] What you do see happening is that people are now starting to move to these new areas. Researchers are  developing alternative paradigms in their fields.
[XX:] Gary, you said that academic programmes tend to use this McLagan model. Do you see any movement to abandon it?
[GMc:] No, I don't. I am always hoping for a possibility of change, and I think there is a possibility for it to change.
[GM:] If you have a look at the content of HRM programmes, they haven't changed for 30, 40, 50 years in the US. That's because of the power politics of the universities and other institutions. There is a very strong barrier to movement because there are vested interests in this.
[ML:] It seems to me that the politics, the political systems behind it all have a major effect. It's quite easy for us to forget how hard the political systems are.
[XX:] ... which are also operating within and in favour of the organisations' legal systems.
[XX:] In terms of political processes going on, in HRD and HRM programmes, there is a sense of security as well; people hold on to believes: 'we do have a theory and we can prove it'.

Source Recording of the discussion which took place at the session 'HRD Practice: A comparison of European and US models' held at the HRD conference in Edinburgh, January 2002 (see proceedings).
Descriptors D-HRD  EP00           
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO