in Europe at the crossroads (Barry Nyhan)
to 'humanistic-developmental' versus 'instrumental-utilitarian' approaches
paper examines the concept and practice of HRD from a European perspective.
It locates HRD, which is seen to refer specifically to learning, training
and development activities in companies, within the context of underlying
'people-management' theories (HRM) or what can be termed 'industrial or
working-life cultures'. This paper contrasts two theories of HRD derived
from two different ways of conceiving HRM. The first of these, which is
seen to have much in common with classical European industrial and working
life values, is the 'humanistic-developmental' tradition. The competing
model, which it is argued is growing in prominence in Europe, is characterised
by an 'instrumental-utilitarian' way of looking at human resources. The
paper concludes that at the present time HRD policy makers in Europe are
caught up in a debate about these two approaches. In fact, Europe can be
seen to be at the crossroads searching for a signpost leading to human
resource management and development policies that promote lifelong learning
for everybody at work with the view to building a strong and sustainable
Barry Nyhan (BNy), Tarja Tikkanen (TT), John Walton (JW) and a colleague
from Texas (XX)
The question you presented is the dichotomy between the functional and
the humanistic. It seems to me this is a conditional paradigm which has
got two choices. The concept of having two choices conveys the idea of
a lack of values. Taking the utilitarian concept for example – The trains
in Northern England were on strike, basically because they sacked train
drivers when they didn't need them; now the need them they can't get them.
This is a major problem all round the country because we don't have national
organisations which train them any longer. this is just a personal feeling,
an experience from yesterday which colours my judgement of this dichotomy
you are presenting. I think it's a very simplistic one if one is presenting
just polarised approaches. Society is pluralistic, is dynamic.
I accept your point about polarising the different values, but I think
there is a sort of movement within HRD in the way it functions. I mentioned
choice, but I also mentioned the mediating role: how does one mediate between
very different approaches; how does one argue these things, ow does one
negotiate in a European context.
I am curious as well about the dichotomist aspects of your paper. My research
focuses on Central and Eastern Europe and government action related to
HRD. I see the mediating role in that context to be closely related to
social policy, to democratisation. I am wondering if your study went into
the regional differences between Northern-Southern and Western-Eastern-Central
Europe, whether there is any evidence with regard to the mediating aspect
at a social policy level.
What I don't do is to study or analyse the traditions. I see the situation
the countries in Central and Eastern Europe are in a very chaotic state,
in a transitional state; they are moving very much towards the liberal
way of running their countries; there is an enormous amount of learning
with regard to their communist dominated past. There are very distinctive
features the UK has got. There is the continental tradition with Germany
and also the Netherlands and Denmark, based on apprenticeship systems,
small companies, and links to the social systems. The Nordic tradition,
such as the Swedish model, is based on societal values, on egalitarianism.
In France, Spain and Portugal there is a more bureaucratic tradition, with
a sort of top-down legislation for trade unions, and a rigid structure
of society and of membership. So there are great differences within Europe.
It's going tricky for HRD because it seems that, as Barry Nyhan is suggesting,
lifelong learning is becoming so powerful. So what HRD was doing in companies
earlier might now merge under a still broader approach to learning. This
broader approach is lifelong learning; the challenge is really on another
level now. In those companies that we investigated the employees seemed
to be willing to do their work with continuous learning. A central issue
in this was management: how managers cope with the challenge of learning.
economy, lifelong learning, learning in interaction between company and
Barry. HRD in Europe – At the crossroads. Abstract. Conference Programme
of the HRD conference at Edinburgh 2002, p. 4. See also Nyhan
2001 (Vol. II, pp. 233-248). Recording of the discussion related to
the presentation by Barry Nyhan at the HRD Conference in Edinburgh 2002