Highlight Symposium: The European perspective of HRD

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Subject Final note on the debate across issues (Jim Stewart)
Outline We had three issues in three blocks, so I'm going to continue to the theme of three and have three caveats and three observations. The caveats are first of all that I read the theses before and prepared my observations on that basis. Most of the speakers have faithfully stuck to what they wrote, some less so, but my observations are more a response to what they wrote than what they said; I haven't had enough time to think about and analyse their verbal presentations. The second caveat is: each of the issues is highly complex in its own right, and trying to find common links is a serious challenge. That leads to the third caveat: because of the first two don't expect any wisdom or startling insights, although hopefully my three observations will be of some interest and use and relevance and validity in relation to what has been said.
     The first observation is that human resource development clearly has a continuing role in identity construction. I think that has been apparent across the three issues and across the three blocks. I could mention a couple of examples, but that would be to simplify the commonality. So, human resource development is perhaps not critical but certainly significant in the construction of individual identities, not just in relation to professional identity but as I think has been pointed out, the whole person, the whole identity of which professional identity is obviously only one part.
     The second observation is that human resource development is and continues to be significant in creating new forms of organisation. So human resource development has an organisational focus as well as an individual focus. What I think has been implicit in several contributions and what I'd like to make explicit is the continuing tension between those two levels, those two foci for human resource development: how do we within human resource development reconcile organisational requirements with individual, personal requirements? If I just for this purpose refer to one paper specifically, which was Nick's first contribution. He mentioned that organisations are social systems for the distribution of various things. He mentioned three; responsibilities, rewards and knowledge. Organisations are social systems for the distribution of power too. I personally think that human resource development tends to avoid that issue, that word. But if it is to make progress in reconciling or matching the needs of individuals and organisations it has to get to grips with the distribution of power within organisations. 
     My third and final observation is that the session confirms various and contrasting strands to European perspectives of HRD. If I change the word to models I can say that models again using the number three can be of three different types: they can be descriptive, they can be analytical and they can be normative. My sense from all the contributions is that if we were to produce a prescriptive, or normative, model for human resource development in Europe it would have to have a person centred and developmental approach and purpose. So perhaps the business case for the European model for human resource development would be that to take Barry's comment (see contribution) on European values the core values would be person centred and developmentally oriented. Thank you.
Source Recording of the symposium
Descriptors D-HRD            
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO