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Subject HRD in France: the corporate perspective
Amandine Weil, Hewlett Packard, France
Jean Woodall, Kingston University, United Kingdom
Outline There has been a debate for some time as to whether there is a specific 'European' approach to HRD that is distinctive from the US, and the most recent comparative analysis of HRD in several European countries suggests that in general HRD functions were preoccupied with much the same activities, including employee development, job design, organisational performance improvement and career development. However, there is also some evidence to suggest that French companies give less priority to management development, the development of high potential employees, career development and training evaluation, and take a short-term rather than a long-term perspective. 
    This paper aims to explore the corporate perspective on HRD in France. The main research questions included: how do HRD professional describe HRD in French companies; : how do French HRD professional in companies describe their roles; what strategies do French HRD departments adopt to achieve these roles, and what factors facilitate or inhibit the achievement of theses strategies? A multiple case study research design was adopted, and documentary and interview evidence was collected in 2003 from six companies located in Eastern France including four manufacturing firms, a supermarket chain and a telecommunications company. 
    The findings concluded that HRD does not appear to be a clearly understood concept among French HRD professionals, and in most cases HRD is subsumed within the wider HRD function. Yet contrary to earlier research, an increasing emphasis on management and career development does suggest a growing awareness of long-term policy issues, while major gaps are still present in relation to performance management and evaluation. There is also some evidence of a growing integration of HRD within corporate strategy, and there is evidence of a strong HRD policy response toward major influences from the business environment. Finally, it is suggested that there is much more scope for further research by means of in-depth case analysis at the firm level.
Source Paper presented at the 5th conference on human resource development research and practice across Europe: International, comparative and cross-cultural dimensions of HRD. University of Limerick, 27-28 May 2004 (Abstract; full paper incl. in CD-ROM).
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