International Journal of HRD Practice Policy and Research

Volume 2 Number 2, 2017

ISSN 2397-4575

 


  • Allow me to use the first part of this editorial to highlight the ups and downs of life as Editor of this Journal. I recently attended an HRD conference in Ahmedebad, India hosted by the Indian Institute of Management in partnership with the Academy of HRD. I had been invited by Dr Rajeshwari Narendran (ML Sukhadia University, Udaipur and Editorial Advisory Board Member) to speak on a panel addressing the industry-academe interface — “bridging the gap between HRD theory, research and practice” and I was pleased to accept. It seemed a great opportunity to speak about the Journal and its aspirations in relation to this very topic. The Panel Discussion generated much interest and enthusiastic comment, and a clear sense that in the idea of an HRD scholarly practitioner there was a platform for solid progress in the building of the bridge. I felt it was necessary, though, in my formal input to the Panel, to introduce a salutary note. Shortly before boarding my flight in Heathrow I had received a communication that a joint enterprise between industry and academia to write a change management account of practice for IJHRDPP&R, based within an international company of some renown, had not been approved by its head office. I stress that this had been a collaborative effort; much of the content being generated by senior figures within the company directly involved with the change programme. They were happy with the finished article; one which provided a considered and reflective account of practice and which gave testimony to the emergence of a more collaborative approach to the management of the change process. There was agreement that this made a useful empirical contribution to our understanding of the leadership and management of change.

    The tone of the article and certain company sensitivities were cited as reasons for declining approval. I remain puzzled and perplexed and above all disappointed. Cynics might suggest that some in top management are embarrassed by any accounts of practice demonstrating the power and potential of shared leadership in respect of organization development. How can they justify the size of their salaries if they are seen to be associated with, however indirectly, advocacy of listening to the employee voice? Nonetheless, whilst certainly a low point in my role as Editor of this Journal, it perhaps serves as a stark reminder that the gap between academe and practice is a tough one to overcome. Rhetoric needs translating into reality and there remains the need for the Journal and its champions to work to convince the sceptics and the risk averse to avoid hiding behind “corporate sensitivities” if the broader interests of generating practice oriented wisdom and insights of real value to a wide HRD community are to be realized. The story ends, though, on a positive note. Judging by the more informal discussion — post Panel — and the commitments from a range of professionals working in India and Asia more widely, to contribute material of interest in the not too distant future, a community of interest has been stimulated and set in motion.

    This issue completes the volume for 2017. Despite the setback noted above, progress continues to be made. Feedback is positive, the readership is broadening and contributions are no longer the preserve of HRD academe. For this issue I highlight firstly an account of HRD impact within a large manufacturer (Deepak Ltd); a detailed and thoughtful development and extension of this Indian company’s winning submission to IFTDO’s Best HRD Practice Awards. Alongside this account of practice, we have a valuable research based reflection on professional learning from Margaret McCarthy (Portsmouth Business School), whilst Paul Greenan and colleagues (Leeds Business School) re-visit the thorny issue of transfer in training and generate new insights for practice. From a HRD policy perspective we have a timely and pertinent examination of a national training programme in the context of one of the Gulf countries’ efforts to develop the knowledge and skills of the indigenous population and reduce the dependency upon expatriate labour. It is co-authored by a successful doctoral student and his two supervisors — a true scholarly-practitioner endeavour. I hope this is the first of many future reviews of national HRD policy and practice, whatever the focus and across both developed and developing countries, to feature in the Journal.

    The somewhat unusual contribution within the HRD Forum section requires a word or two of introduction. There is no escaping the challenges facing HRD and HRD professionals. Is HRD’s status increasingly that of a weakened profession? Will Artificial Intelligence confine HRD to the dustbin of history as meaningful work is limited to an ever decreasing proportion of the workforce? It is undeniable that there are tensions and dilemmas but they are laced with considerable opportunity for creative endeavour and influence. In this spirit a recent HRD Conference sought to actively consider the future of HRD and it is entirely befitting that IJHRDPP&R can now publish an outcome from this initiative. “The Future of HRD: Scenarios of Possibility” captures the joint work of the HRD professionals involved (both at the conference and subsequently) and it is to be hoped that its publication can help sustain this critical dialogue. It is perhaps surprising, but certainly encouraging, that the future scenarios discussed do indeed take a generally positive and optimistic view of HRD over the next 10 years. And this sort of time frame is important. Rather than debating the end of work we should be addressing the very real challenges technology is creating today and striving to ensure that the human in HRD is not sacrificed in pressures for business efficiency and technological advancement. As Jeff Gold notes in his concluding comment in the Futures article: “As facilitators of learning and generative activity HRD could create the narrative for others to follow” and here also lies a role for the Journal as one forum on such a journey.

    Looking to the immediate future and the next volume of the Journal we are actively pursuing the generation of a Special Issue on HRD in Africa, arising out of the AHRD-IFTDO first conference on Human Capital Development in Africa, held at Addis Ababa University in August. A further prospective Special Issue is being discussed in relation to HRD impact. In the next UK research assessment exercise (2021) case studies that document the impact of academic research will count for 25 per cent of a university’s ‘score’. The Journal is well placed over the next two or three years to reflect this changing emphasis, offering the opportunity for publication of articles which address research into the impact of HRD practice, in preparation for the REF assessment. And, of course, the issue of HRD impact attracts interest internationally. The door is open here and contributions are very welcome; inside or outside of any Special Issue that might be forthcoming.
    Finally, I note the Writing Awards detailed on page 71; an initiative to encourage those who have recently completed (or are nearing completion) an HRD research project, linked to a postgraduate or professional programme (e.g. DBA, DEd, Masters/Diploma in HR/HRD), to write for publication. The exemplar collaboration evident in this issue, and noted above, would seem a most apposite way to harness the interests of new writers with the Journal’s scholarly-practice focus.

    Dr Rick Holden, Editor in Chief

Articles

  • This article considers the impact of an evidence-based approach to professional development. For the human resource field, an international trend for evidence can reinforce credibility and better professional recognition. The research focused on practitioner experiences of what counts as acceptable evidence of learning. Findings suggest that most practitioners attempt to fit learning to organizational expectations, but a quantitative view of evidence can restrict the possibilities of autonomous professional growth. Some records capture the significance of thinking around work experiences which build professional judgement. A practice implication for educators, policy makers, and employers is to widen understandings of valid evidence of learning; to value deeper reflections on casework based in practice. This article offers an approach to meaningful evidence that guides practitioner competence in the management of unpredictable workforce issues.

    Key Words: evidence, professional learning, CPD, identity, HR practice, development

    Introduction
    A prominent international trend across occupations is the use of records to evidence professional learning (Morrell & Learmonth, 2015; Volles, 2016). This article considers the impact of an evidence-based record on human resource (HR) practitioners’ development. The challenge of talent management across multinational workforces has increased industry demands for greater professionalization of the HR field. However, the status of the HR function is often marginalized in organizational structures; an underdog position compared to more established groups, such as accountancy (Wright, 2008; Mackay, 2017b). For HR specialists, a record that demonstrates competence offers an opportunity to improve professional recognition (SHRM, 2007; XpertHR, 2016). The study examines HR practitioners’ response to the demand for evidence of professional development. Findings suggest that institutional views of learning may restrict professional growth. This can undermine the potential learning value of unexpected social interactions and reflection on practice experience. This study draws attention to a prevailing industry view of evidence as quantitative, measurable outputs (CIPD, 2012). Consequently, there is a risk of learning becoming a corporate exercise, or devalued product, to satisfy narrow measures of performance (OECD, 2010). Records that candidly reflect on dynamic experience guide practitioner skill development far more than a mechanical exercise. To this end, the paper argues for an inclusive view of evidence that values the examination of practice for professional growth. The study offers three practical implications: the impact of conscious reflection, the relevance of practice insights on professional development, and the significance of an independent voice to influence individual and organizational behaviour.

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  • to demonstrate impact and contribution to business success. This article provides an account of HRD practice in a large Indian manufacturing company. A difficult business and industrial relations context in the early 2010s provided the stimulus for HRD to take a more strategic role within the organization. The article focuses upon HRD’s initiative with the company’s line managers. Fundamentally managers needed to take greater responsibility for managing their people. The approach followed and the interventions made to equip managers with a set of new capabilities are critically assessed. The initiative reflects how, appropriately positioned and supported, HRD’s impact can be significant in terms of business performance.

    Key Words: HRD practice, impact, line managers, development, India

    Introduction
    Deepak Fertilisers and Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd is a leading Indian manufacturer of Industrial Chemicals. Set up in 1979 as an ammonia manufacturer, DFPCL today is a publicly listed, multi-product Indian conglomerate with an annual turnover of over half a billion USD. It has a multi-product portfolio spanning industrial chemicals, bulk and speciality fertilizers, farming diagnostics and solutions, technical ammonium nitrate, mining services and consulting and value added real estate. The company is headquartered at Pune. It has a management workforce of a little over 1,000. Its main manufacturing site (one of three) is located at Taloja, with a unionized workforce of approximately 400.

    The origins of the particular initiative discussed in this article can be traced back to the latter part of the 2000s and early 2010s, a period characterized by sub-optimal industrial relations together with emergence of restrictive IR practices. It is important to note that prior to 2014 the plant at Taloja, was receiving subsidized natural gas that provided some degree of cost advantage in a highly controlled fertilizer market in India. Over these years, several work practices and behaviours — that negatively affected manufacturing productivity and efficiency — took root within the organization. For example: overmanning; production at any cost; lack of required sense of urgency and a general indiscipline and disengagement of unionized workers towards work. Management found it difficult to take ownership and responsibility for ensuring high standards of performance, including safe working, and the equitable implementation of policies and procedures. Relations generally between managers and workers were less than harmonious.

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  • (NHRD) has been utilized to develop the knowledge and skills of the indigenous population, create job opportunities for a greater number of job seekers and reduce the nation’s dependency on expatriate labour (Omanization). The National Training Programme (NTP) is the key initiative that aims to achieve Omanization and which provides the context for this paper. The NTP is overseen by the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) and involves a tripartite agreement between Trainees, Training Providers, and Employers. This “training mingled with employment” commenced in 2003 and has provided training for more than 36,000 individuals, in areas as diverse as commerce, industry, and craftwork. However, despite these encouraging figures, produced by the Ministry, there is a lack of empirical research that surfaces the voices of the other stakeholders involved in the NTP policy implementation. This paper addresses this void and illustrates how the key stakeholder groups: the Ministry of Manpower, Training Providers, Employers, and Trainees viewed the implementation of the NTP policy. In doing so, we highlight the complexities of the relationships involved and illuminate an emerging ‘blame culture’, which, if left unacknowledged, will hinder the implementation of the NTP, and impact negatively on Omanization. We conclude with implications for practice and argue that, in order to enhance the future implementation and success of the NTP, on-going participatory action research is required that includes all stakeholder groups, if the challenges of this emerging ‘blame culture’ are to be understood fully.

    Key Words: national HRD, policy implementation, stakeholders, insider research

    Introduction
    This paper is set within the Sultanate of Oman, where National Human Resource Development (NHRD) has been utilized to develop the knowledge and skills of the indigenous population, with the concurrent aim being to reduce the nation’s dependency on expatriate labour, and create work opportunities for young Omanis.
    Since the 1990s, the governments of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have come to realize that their nationals need to diversify and move outside the public sector (Forstenlechner et al., 2012). However, in Oman, this trend toward the localization of labour emerged earlier than in other Gulf States, with the late 1970s seeing a radical modernization of the country (Beasant et al., 2002). Whilst the initial localization of labour concerned military and security jobs (Valeri, 2005), it was subsequently expanded to embrace other public sector and civil service institutions. With the rapid developments in technology, coupled with reaching a saturation of employees in the Oman public sector, the concept of labour localization was developed gradually and, in 1996, the policy was formally implemented within the private sector. Hence, the nationalization of jobs in the private sector was firmly placed within the broader policy of Omanization, with the National Training Programme (NTP) being viewed as central to achieving this overarching policy.

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  • As organizations adopt a more inclusive or pluralistic approach to talent management, there is an emphasis on the engagement of a broader segment of the workforce to deliver both strategic and operational objectives. Accompanying this is investment in learning, training and development activity which is intended to enhance the achievement of the objectives based on the assumption of the effective transfer of training to improve performance or behavioural outcomes. Ensuring that training investment is converted to measurable outcomes is therefore a priority for many organizations and Return on Investment in Training (ROIT) is increasingly sought in the same way as for any other corporate investment. This article synthesizes developments in goal setting theory and highlights a limitation with regards to the theory being applied to the contemporary workplace. It proposes that implementation intentions and the associated ‘if/then’ plans offer the chance to mediate this. Key to these plans being successful is for them to be embedded at the learning design stage creating a clear link between the need for the learning/training and agreed objectives. A large part of the success of implementation intentions is that control of behaviour is given to situational cues in the workplace and these can be reinforced by supportive line managers and peers. But it is essential that they are also aware of the implementation intention plan in order to offer informed support. A holistic learning environment is key to the success of any intervention but given the importance of situational cues when considering implementation intentions it is vital that both learners and those who support them in the workplace are aware of the specific roles they play and the impact they have.

    Key Words: training transfer, implementation intentions, line managers, return on investment

    Introduction
    As organizations adopt a more inclusive or pluralistic approach to talent management, there is an emphasis on the engagement of a broader segment of the workforce to deliver both strategic and operational objectives. Accompanying this is investment in learning, training and development activity which is intended to enhance the achievement of the objectives based on the assumption of the effective transfer of training to improve performance or behavioural outcomes. However, this presents a challenge since only an estimated 10% of training has had the desired effect. Indeed professional bodies such as the American Association of Talent Development and the UK based Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development acknowledge that discussions about how to demonstrate the business value of learning, training and development have raged for years. Ensuring that training investment is converted to measurable outcomes is therefore a priority for many organizations and Return on Investment in Training (ROIT) is increasingly sought in the same way as for any other corporate investment.

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HRD Forum

  • Across Europe and beyond, there is a sense that we are in the midst of a fundamental shift or change unlike anything we have experienced before and we did not see enough of it coming. As a consequence, HRD and learning and development professionals risk joining the growing ranks of those who have been left behind. Schwab (2016) refers to what he sees as a “profound shift” (p. 1) as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where a confluence of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet of things provide a capability for transformation for generations to come but much disruption, unpredictability and future surprises.

    For many, and the HRD community and profession might be included, the track of globalization and neo-liberal capitalism, with all its faults, has not yet run its full course. As it does, combined with the advances in technology, it will continue to engender divisions and inequality. As a recent World Economic Forum gathering at Davos found, there was a growing distrust of government, companies and the media, based on a belief of a failing economic and political system. Next in line for an algorithmic/robotized attack might well be skilled and intelligent service staff and professionals, including those in HRD. Left to global forces, the expansion of low paid and low skilled work is likely to become more pronounced leading to uncomfortable political and social disruption (Brexit and Trumpism may be just the start).

    There are difficult possibilities for the professions in general (Susskind & Susskind, 2015) and HRD professionals in particular. With its status as a ‘weakened profession’ (Short et al., 2009, p. 421) whose members play a subservient role, the status was hardly enhanced during the Global Financial Crisis when HRD professional were accused by some of becoming bystanders because they lacked the necessary influence to change the practices they could see happening (MacKenzie et al., 2012). Has anything changed in HRD?
    With the advance of technologies, others have provided a pessimistic scenario where HRD professionals are needed less in creative endeavours. Their work is deskilled and reduced in value because machines can do their work better and more cost efficiently; for example, by reducing complexity to uniform and standardized packages that can be rolled out as People Development courses across large numbers of supine learners (Calver et al., 2012). Those in academe are likely to fare little better, caught in their own limited life-world of producing outcomes that meet their organization’s targets, for example the UK’s Research Excellence Framework which some have called a ‘fetish’ and a ‘perversion’ (Wilmott, 2011).

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  • Organizational Change Explained: Case Studies on Transformational Change in Organizations
    Sarah Coleman and Bob Thomas (Eds.)
    Kogan Page, 2017, ISBN: 978-07494-7547-5

    Organizational Change Explained shares accounts of practice and insights from experienced change practitioners. Through a series of detailed case studies and related discussion it provides a resource for professionals to reflect upon their own work and consider strategies and approaches to any organizational change issue they may face. Importantly the book is not offering a simplistic checklist of do’s and don’ts, but rather the basis for a critical consideration of the learning generated through the analyses presented. The way organizations are approaching change is itself changing. Over the past 15 years, the authors argue:

    the conversation about organizational change has evolved from the very basic level (for example, an occasional discrete, local change programme) through to a more mature level (for example, where an organization is managing a portfolio of multiple and often overlapping change initiatives). And now increasingly the change conversation is evolving further into major, complex transformation which is unpredictable, iterative, experimental and often involves high risk.

    The book is in two parts. Part 1 uses case material across different industry sectors to look at how change is practically shaped, delivered and embedded. Cases include the UK’s NHS, GlaxoSmithKline and what the authors suggest is Europe’s largest construction project — Crossrail. One chapter focuses on leading change in the not for profit sector. Importantly, each chapter does not simply describe the organizational change in the context of a particular organization or sector. Rather key themes are integrated into and drawn out from the analysis presented. Whilst the usual suspects — resistance to change, communication and engagement, shared vision etc. — feature strongly, themes that have emerged in more recent years are also given sound attention. So, for example two chapters draw on insights from applied neuroscience — the impact of organizational change on the brain — and relatedly change behaviours. The growing acknowledgement that leadership of change is not all about the executive level also appears in several of the case studies although somewhat disappointingly there is no one chapter that takes this theme as its main focus.

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  • This award seeks to encourage those who have recently completed or are nearing completion, an HRD research project, linked to a postgraduate or professional programme (e.g. DBA, DEd, Masters/Diploma in HR/HRD) to write for publication. The award is offered by the International Journal of HRD Practice, Policy & Research. The Journal is an international peer reviewed journal. It aims to publish articles which make an original contribution to Human Resource Development, providing insight, ideas and understanding on the contemporary issues and challenges facing HRD. It is a practice oriented journal but one which seeks reflective consideration of HRD practice and appropriate ‘translation’ of research into practice of interest to a wide range of HRD professionals.

    Two awards will be offered; each will include the following:
    • £250 (per author team).
    •A complimentary place (for the lead — non-supervisor — author) at one of the following conferences:
    — The 47th International Federation of Training & Development Organisations World Conference.
    — The 19th International Conference on HRD Research and Practice Across Europe (UFHRD/AHRD), 2018.
    • Fast track publication within the International Journal of HRD Practice, Policy & Research.

    The Editorial Board of the Journal regard the work undertaken in completing a DBA, a Masters dissertation or a CIPD ‘Investigating a Business Issue’ project as “scholarly practice” and thus potentially highly pertinent to the aims and objectives of the Journal. The award seeks to encourage anyone whose topic of research is within the field of HRD to consider a wider audience for their work through writing for publication in the journal.

    Jointly authored submissions (i.e. where the proposed article is jointly authored with a supervisor) may be a particularly attractive and accessible way to proceed.

    Interested applicants are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the aims and aspirations of the Journal — available in detail at www.ijhrdppr.com. Submissions for this Award should reflect a scholar‑practitioner or practitioner-scholar perspective and speak to an international readership. Accounts of HRD practice/policy should be so constructed as to move beyond description and be appropriately informed by research and critical questions/reflection. Submissions should follow the normal ‘Guidelines for Contributors’ which are available on the Journal’s web site at www.ijhrdppr.com

    The deadline for submissions is 31 December, 2017