Human Resource Management

Essay by ataf78 July 2006

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There is a growing body of literature on the emergence and growth of human resource development (HRD) and in particular HRD with a strategic focus. Part of this growth can be attributed to the popularization both of Porter's[1,2] notion of competitive advantage and of the excellence literature, (e.g. [3,4,5 ]). The former body of literature argues that an organization needs to identify the key elements of its value chain in order to achieve competitive advantage. The excellence literature suggests that employees' values and philosophies should be guided by, and be consistent with, the strategies proposed by the organization. HRD is seen as a way of forging a relationship between human resources and strategy. Fombrun et al.[6] see the objective of strategic HRD in terms of aligning the formal structure and human resource systems so that they drive the strategic objectives of the organization.

Harrison[7] suggests that many trainers find the phrase "strategic human resource development" difficult to accept, preferring the "softer" phrases such as "employee development", or "training and development".

However, the phrase now has considerable international currency and is used widely in the HRD literature (8-10) to mean the planned learning and development of people as individuals and as groups to the benefit of the business as well as themselves. Sparrow and Pettigrew[11] and Harrison[7] cite many organizations where a business-led approach to training and development is typical.

This article will focus on the emergence of human resource development. In particular it will outline forces which are driving a move towards strategic HRD. It will examine the characteristics of strategic human resource management (HRM) and its key assumptions and philosophies. It will conclude by examining the relationships between business plans, HR plans and HRD and make some comment on the extent to which...