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Subject HRD models in the United States (Gary McLean)
Outline What I have chosen to do is to share with you some of the optional models that predominate in the US academic environment.
    Certainly in the US the model that predominated early, back in the 60s, was Len Nadler's model. It's a model you don't hear talk about too much today although you see it emerging in subtle ways as conversation goes on about HRD. Nadler's model started with training and differentiated training from education and development. So training was seen as preparation immediately for the job, education was seen as preparation for a job some time in the future, and development had more of an individual focus whereby the individual is developing himself or herself, which may or may not have implications for the organisation. This is a model that has migrated around the world. Because Nadler spent considerable time in Thailand, for example, it is a model that is still widely used there.
    Clearly the predominant model in HRD in the US and, as Laird and I found in our research on HRD definitions internationally, around the world, in spite of all the criticisms about it, is Patricia McLagan's work that started in 1984 through the American Society for Training and Development. It was later updated and became more comprehensive in the 1989 work that resulted in definitions and professional roles for HRD. Probably most widely used even today is the HR Wheel she introduced, identifying eleven different components of human resources. These include three areas that have the word development in them and, therefore, are regarded as HRD: training and development, organisation development, and career development. Four areas are seen as exclusively HRM, and four areas are considered as the overlap between HRD and HRM. It's a model that probably has been most significant in influencing the development of academic programmes in the US. So it is very common to find an HRD programme that has course work in each of the three areas, much less common to find course work in the overlap areas, and uncommon to find anything in the areas that are identified only as HRM.
    There are huge problems with the research that led to the development of this model. It had a bad sample, a bad sample frame, and a series of questions exists concerning the body of the surveys, the validating experts, and so on. But it is nevertheless a predominant model in academia. The problem with the model beyond the methodological concerns is that nobody believes in it except HRD academics. Even the primary author, Pat McLagan, has stated publicly that the model is no longer relevant. In fact, she argues that, today, HRD must be the strategic partner with the business in all of the eleven areas of the HR Wheel. 
    There are other conflicts that emerge with regard to HRD. Career development is well established within the US, and, in addition to HRD programmes, there are also academic programmes in psychology, industrial and organisational psychology, educational psychology, adult education, and counselling. Academics in these fields wonder about the corresponding knowledge in HRD programmes. There are HRD professionals from the OD Network who provide training, with a heavy research focus, for practitioner organisations; these professionals regard OD as a separate discipline and definitely not a part of HRD. And industry says: We are going to get the best people to do the job; we put them in a training programme; if the best of these people are in the personnel department or the HRM department, we are going to let them do the work! All of these conflicts suggest that the HRD model itself does not work very well. 
    There is a debate around what the supporting theories for HRD are and the foundations of HRD. You probably all have heard about the famous three-legged stool. Dick Swanson argues that HRD is supported by three disciplines: systems theory, economics and psychology, all resting on a rug of ethics.  I have argued that limiting us to three disciplines is extremely simplistic with the complexity of the work that we are called on to do. The question is, what are the foundation principles? I would suggest that anthropology is absolutely the core of work we do in OD. Ruona has argued for the addition of philosophy. Others have argued for the inclusion of sociology and communications.
    Altogether, there is a lot of discomfort with the models that exist in the US. There is a lot of interest in developing the field. What we see happening in the US today is actually a move away from trying to create an overriding model and instead trying to create models that are theoretically based, looking at aspects of HRD. So we see the work that Holton and many others are doing around transfer of training; we see the work that the Ethics Committee of the Academy of HRD and others are doing around ethics; we see the work that is being done by Burke around trying to throw up the actual research model for OD and to recreate a new model that is more inventive, dynamic, and theoretically sound.
    So we look forward to new models coming out; we look forward to models that are more focused; but we don't look forward to an overriding model of HRD. I don't think that is going to happen, at least not until we have moved much further forward in the development of our theoretical understanding of what HRD is and the concepts that are foundational to it.
Source Recording of the presentation made at the session 'HRD Practice: A comparison of European and US models' held at the HRD conference in Edinburgh, January 2002 (see proceedings).
Further reading: McLean 1998, McLean et al. 2001; Record: Defining HRD in an international context.
Descriptors D-HRD            
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