Joseph Kessels (JK), Monica Lee (ML), Graem Martin (GM), Gary McLean (GMc)
and others (XX)
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.
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.
There is still a difference between 'it is not feasible' or whether it
would be necessary.
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!
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
What you do see happening is that people are now starting to move to these
new areas. Researchers are developing alternative paradigms in their
Gary, you said that academic programmes tend to use this McLagan model.
Do you see any movement to abandon it?
No, I don't. I am always hoping for a possibility of change, and I think
there is a possibility for it to change.
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.
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
... which are also operating within and in favour of the organisations'
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'.