in France: the corporate perspective
Weil, Hewlett Packard, France
Woodall, Kingston University, United Kingdom
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.
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).