commonalities in outlook on HRD in Europe, Japan and the USA are
more significant than the differences. This result may be caused by the
concentration in the study on large organisations which share the context
of the global economy. The inclusion of SMEs might have led to different
results, since these operate in varying regional and local economies.
European organisations tend to integrate their development practices: corporate
strategy, organisational development, HRM and HRD. Their HRD strategies
are more integrated in business than in Japanese and US organisations.
organisations find themselves dealing with strong competitive markets
and/or fast changing technologies. In response, their strategies focus
on improving organisational flexibility. Human resources are regarded as
a key to competitiveness. Employee learning and related strategies, such
as knowledge management/ knowledge sharing and creating a learning culture,
are key issues for these organisations.
The role of HRD professionals is changing from trainer to consultant. Their
strategic role is to link HRD closely to business; their practical role
is to provide learning opportunities for employees. The execution of HRD
activities is a shared responsibility of HRD professionals, managers and
Off-the-job training is still an important strategy, but it is complemented
by strategies to support self-directed and informal learning and to link
training with organisational strategy.
strategies within Europe have more commonalities (especially concerning
the vision on HRD functions and the implementation of strategies) than
cross-country differences. The differences are related to national jurisdictions
and regulations, including rights on educational leave; training costs;
relationships between VET and HRD; and school-to-work transition practices.
comparisons have revealed interesting national differences, which need
to be studied further. It would be informative to link this further study
to the national contexts, incentives for organisations and individuals
to invest in HRD activities, policy measures taken by the national administration,
law enactment in certain fields (like environmental law, law on labour
conditions, safety), and the developments in the educational systems. This
may show further intra-European diversity than has been found in this study.
But above all, it may explain the diversity to a large extent, and this
may lead to guidelines for European policy efforts to improve conditions
for HRD in European countries.