International Journal of HRD Practice Policy and Research

Volume, 2 Number 1, 2017
ISSN 2397-4583


  • It is almost a year to the day that I was drafting the first editorial for the journal. Anniversaries can be overplayed but a first anniversary should not go overlooked. I am reminded of a first anniversary some years ago when, together with my eldest son, we had reached the end of the first year of our joint business venture – a small music bar in Leeds. Whilst a successful first year was indeed a cause for celebration it was kept in check by the realisation that, if anything, we needed to re-double our efforts to develop the business in year two. And so with IJHRDPP&R. In many ways it is still very early days. The positioning of the Journal (and see also HRD Forum) is work in progress and we face the challenge in year two of sustaining momentum.

    The good news is that this first issue of Volume 2 does just that, with strong contributions both in the main section and in the HRD Forum … plus two bits of news, which hopefully will help generate both interest in and recognition of the Journal. I am pleased that three contributions reflect, unequivocally, the voice of the HRD practitioner. Mark Cole questions traditional, and still pervasive, notions of ‘training’ in the workplace. The paper generates ideas, drawn from his experience in L&D within the UK’s NHS, about alternative practices and importantly something of a practice agenda for how fellow practitioners might re-think their own work from the perspectives he develops. Gillian Felton and her colleagues, Lisa Banton and Angela Earnshaw, all active organisation development practitioners, provide rich insight into their personal journeys of professional development using soft systems methodology. They subsequently draw these together with an assessment of the value of this particular HRD pathway, together with consideration of implications for OD practice more generally. From OD in the UK public sector we are transported to the United Arab Emirates where Alaa Garad and Fiona Martis highlight interesting developments in HRD at national and local levels, working with the model of business excellence and the investors in people (IIP) framework.

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  • Against the backdrop of a concern that traditional notions of ‘training’ continue to influence workplace learning and development practice in many organizations, this paper contributes an alternative perspective as a means of engendering change and enhanced performance amongst individuals and across organizations. In discussing the relationships between organizational effectiveness, organization development and learning and development it constructs a ‘foundation for improvement’ based on three elements: knowledge, connections and conversation. Drawing on illustrative accounts of current L&D practice from one NHS Trust in the UK, the paper develops what this altered practice of development in a workplace context might look like. Thus, both a vision and a practice agenda, in terms of working differently with people in organizations, are outlined and provide a basis for how fellow practitioners might question and rethink their own L&D practice.

    Key Words: training, L&D, organization development, workplace, practice agenda

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  • The aim of this article is to provide theoretical and empirical insights concerning the role of managers in facilitating their employees’ learning and development at work. The empirical basis of the article is two case studies of industrial companies in which managers were interviewed and observed. The results indicate that managers use combinations of different activities (planned, partially planned and spontaneous) and roles (the supporter, the educator and the confronter) to facilitate learning in different situations. Depending on the combination of activities, roles and the learning to be facilitated, two types of learning-oriented leadership emerge. The main type, performance-oriented leadership, is intended to facilitate adaptive learning. The less prominent type, development-oriented leadership, is intended to facilitate developmental learning. By illustrating learning-oriented leadership in daily work, the findings contradict the romantic notion that leadership for learning is charismatic and transformational.

    Key Words: HRD, learning-oriented leadership, managerial work, workplace learning

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  • Corporate universities (CUs) have been in existence in the United States since the early 1900s. There is, however, little empirical research on these types of organizations. This study focused on identifying the operational factors of an existing electrical wholesale distributor’s corporate university, using a previously described theoretical model. The major research question was: What are the operational factors associated with this particular CU?

    Applying a bounded case-study approach, data were collected from 62 in-person interviews with executives, employees and vendors; classroom observations; and reviews of available documents. Trustworthiness was ensured by using triangulation, member checking, and expert peer review.

    Results revealed some consistency with the theoretical model; however, a new profile and new factors were identified. These included: (a) new profile of leaders-as-teachers, and five new factors: (b) partnerships with vendors, (c) partnerships with outside organizations, (d) use of course prerequisites, (e) time for required training, and (f) the integrated systems model.

    The results of this study may assist other HRD practitioners and CU Directors in making informed decisions concerning their workplace training efforts, specifically regarding the use of leaders as teachers and the strategic role that can be played by a CU in creating a competitive advantage in the workplace. In addition, suggestions for future research are provided.

    Key Words: corporate universities, human resource development, training, learning

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  • Given a context of tough change, Organisational Development practitioners need to be able to innovate as well as develop and implement strategy quickly and efficiently. The key to this is agility — a set of capabilities that can help organisations to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances.

    This paper reports on an initiative undertaken by three OD practitioners in three different UK organisations to respond to such pressures and challenge. Critically, the initiative involved them exploring and utilising soft systems methodology (SSM) as an intervention. The paper reports on their initial exposure to SSM and their progress so far.

    First, the paper presents a brief contextual background regarding OD. This is followed by an explanation of the approach adopted as the learning and application of SSM began. The next stage was to draw rich pictures in relation to the impact upon each of the three OD practitioners, in the context of their chosen organisational problems. The paper concludes with their assessment of the value of this particular pathway of professional development together with some consideration of implications for OD practice more generally.

    Key Words: organization development, soft systems, managing change, professional development

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  • Interesting developments are taking place in the United Arab Emirates in relation to national and organizational HRD policy and practice. These focus upon an approach which seeks to build upon and ultimately integrate standards drawn from the models of Business Excellence (BE) and Investors in People (IIP). In this the second of a two-part article a case study is presented which illustrates the combined benefits of the two standards. The article draws out the practice initiatives and achievements taken by the case organization — a large hotel in Abu Dhabi — in developing from BE to IIP. An integrated model offers national and organizational HRD a challenging but exciting prospect. Potential benefits in seeking to apply such an organization development approach go beyond a mere aggregation of IIP and BE. A key implication is the development of an understanding of how the two models can work together.

    Key Words: business excellence, EFQM, IIP, HRD, organization development, hospitality, UAE

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HRD Forum

  • Depending on your point of view, or politics or where you live, according to some commentators, we living through an epoch-changing transition. We do not know the outcome of this process, nor even the clarity of direction but we are becoming aware of some the effects of the disturbances and disconnections. This could include recent populist movements in the US and Europe which decry the gains of globalization in the face of those who have felt aggrieved by the disproportionate impact on their lives. It could also embrace the advances and possibilities of technologies which have been labelled the fourth Industrial Revolution, although how people will interpret such advances will depend on whether they are seen as a help or hindrance to how they live their lives. We can project both positive and negative scenarios, including seriously negative, and points in between. Such are the unpredictable and uncertainties, no wonder one commentator has declared, ‘the future is not for wimps!’

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  • This article is concerned with showing how Human Resource Development (HRD) researchers can and do connect with practice. The source of the data and examples informing the article is UK specific, and in particular the results of submissions to what is known as REF 2014. Some words of explanation are therefore needed for non-UK, or more precisely, non-UK academic readers of this article. First, what is REF 2014? And second, how does it aim, or perhaps claim, to connect theory and practice? We will answer those questions first to set the UK national context for the content of the article. Of course, other countries also conduct similar reviews of national research activity, so our discussion is relevant in the international context.

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  • Book Review: Inclusive Talent Management: How Business can Thrive in an Age of Diversity
    Stephen Frost and Danny Kalman
    Kogan Page, 2016, £29.99, ISBN: 9780749475871

    It was way back in 1997 that Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company first wrote of “The War for Talent” outlining key demographic trends that are now in full swing. In Inclusive Talent Management: How Business can Thrive in an Age of Diversity, Frost and Kalman argue that in today’s increasingly diverse society the traditional distinction between policies on diversity and inclusion and talent management are over. They develop a model they call Integrated Talent Management where they are intrinsically entwined. There is a wealth of passion and experience they bring to hand. They conclude that those leaders able to manage in such an integrated environment can have thriving organizations, handling today’s urgent demands for the right talent.

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  • Book Review: Leadership-As-Practice: Theory and Application
    Joseph Raelin (Ed)
    Routledge, 2016, ISBN 9781138924864

    Book Review: Transpersonal Leadership Series; White Papers One, Two and Three
    Routledge in partnership with Leadership Global, 2016

    Last year I taught a Master’s programme on Leadership and Change Management in both Malawi and Swaziland. I was struck by how difficult it was to get the students to think about and embrace ideas about leadership that did not sit firmly within a view that leadership is about ‘great men’ (and sometimes women!), ‘heroes’ and the ‘traits’ of particular individuals — usually in very senior organisational positions. This book goes someway to helping me make sense of this difficulty. It introduces the “leadership-as-practice” (L-A-P) movement which Raelin claims will “shake the foundations of the very meaning of leadership” in the worlds of theory and practice. A bold claim but as you begin to wrestle with the idea you can begin to see why. Its essence is its conception of leadership as occurring as a practice rather than residing in the traits or behaviours of particular individuals. Leadership-as-practice is less about what one person thinks or does and more about what people may accomplish together. It is thus concerned with how leadership emerges and unfolds through day-to-day experience. I recall my students being particularly engaged with a case study focusing on Michael O’Leary as CEO of the Irish based budget airline RyanAir. But, if leadership is understood as residing in individuals, with a bundle of ‘superior’ competencies and if these assumptions are deeply rooted, then no wonder this alternative way of thinking about leadership is challenging.

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