Record European perspective of HRD

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Subject HRD in Europe, Japan and the USA
Context Literature review on HRD in Europe, Japan and the USA; case studies of 28 large organisations in 7 European countries 
Summary The 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.

European 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 employees.
    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.

HRD 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.
    The 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. 

Key terms Common HRD strategies - national differences;
HRD as factor of organisational flexibility;
changing role of HRD professionals; shared responsibility for HRD; 
knowledge sharing and learning culture
Source Horst et al. 1999, pp.144-146, 153-156; Horst et al. 1999a, pp. 17-20; Tjepkema et al. 2000a, p. viii
Descriptors D-HRD, D-LO EP00, EP01 EP03, EP04 EP06, EP07  EP10    R08
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO