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Future Directions for HRD

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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to propose some future directions for the field of human resource development (HRD). We use an organization development (OD) approach, starting with a look at the current state of HRD at individual (e.g., theorists, researchers, scholars, scholar-practitioners, and practitioners) and collective levels (e.g., academia, practice). Second, we propose an ideal vision for the future. Third, we examine internal and external challenges to attaining this ideal future, and focus on four issues we think are key: relevance, governance/certification, technology, and ethics/integrity. Fourth, we propose actions to take as a field—at individual and collective levels—to achieve the ideal future. In this closing chapter, some perspective taking is in order. As two professionals with a combined forty-one years in the discipline of HRD who have earned doctoral degrees, taught both undergraduate and graduate HRD courses, contributed to the academic and practitioner literature, and served as both external and internal consultants, we are in a unique position to discuss some future directions for the field of HRD. We have also chaired/served on committees in both practitioner and academic professional associations, such as the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD), the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
978-1-118-45402-2/Chalofsky/Rocco/Morris/Handbook of Human Resource
Development
RHR:Future Directions for HRD
RHL:Handbook of Human Resource Development
40
FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR HRD
Martin B. Kormanik
O.D. SYSTEMS
Thomas J. Shindell
TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY
The purpose of this chapter is to propose some future directions for the
field of human resource development (HRD). We use an organization
development (OD) approach, starting with a look at the current state of HRD at
individual (e.g., theorists, researchers, scholars, scholar-practitioners, and
practitioners) and collective levels (e.g., academia, practice). Second, we propose
an ideal vision for the future. Third, we examine internal and external challenges
to attaining this ideal future, and focus on four issues we think are key: relevance,
governance/certification, technology, and ethics/integrity. Fourth, we propose
actions to take as a fieldat individual and collective levelsto achieve the ideal
future.
In this closing chapter, some perspective taking is in order. As two
professionals with a combined forty-one years in the discipline of HRD who have
earned doctoral degrees, taught both undergraduate and graduate HRD courses,
contributed to the academic and practitioner literature, and served as both external
and internal consultants, we are in a unique position to discuss some future
directions for the field of HRD. We have also chaired/served on committees in
both practitioner and academic professional associations, such as the Academy of
Human Resource Development (AHRD), the American Society for Training &
Development (ASTD), and the Society for Human Resource Management
(SHRM).
Our Approach
Rather than debate definitions of HRD, we adopt McLagan’s (1989) view
that “HRD is the integrated use of training and development, organization
development, and career development to improve individual, group, and
organizational effectiveness” (p. 52). HRD “is fundamentally about change. It
covers the whole organization and addresses the whole person” (Stewart &
McGoldrick, 1996, p. 2). The organization development (OD) process is also
about change and provides a helpful framework to discuss issues and concerns
facing the field of HRD, and to suggest future directions to leverage these
challenges. The Four Stage Analysis and Development model (Figure 40.1)
depicts this structured OD approach (Organization Development Systems, 2000).
The model represents a data based analysis essentially oriented toward change, be
it problem solving (deficit-based) or appreciative (strengths-based). It illustrates
the series of questions that must be answered when moving from the past, through
the present, to the future. This is the work of our chapter of this handbook.
The model asks four questions about the issue undergoing analysisin this
case, HRD. First, the analysis begins with an assessment of the “as is” condition,
including the history that produced the current state. Second, by asking, “Where
do we want/need to be?” the model drives identification of the “ideal” state,
encompassing desired and required goals and objectives. In addition to the gap
between the current and ideal state, there may be a difference between where an
organizationor a field such as HRDwants to be and where it needs to be,
perhaps dictated by mission requirements, stakeholders, and corporate mandates.
Third, the model asks, what is keeping us from itthe internal and external
challenges to the “ideal” state. Fourth, the model shifts to planning and
implementing strategies and actions for leveraging the challenges and for
removing or mitigating the effect of the barriers.
PAGER, insert figure 40.1 about here
Figure 40.1. Four Stage Analysis and Development Model
Organization Development Systems, 2000.
Where Is HRD Now?
Where is the field of HRD now, including where it has been? HRD is an
applied field. It is multidisciplinary. It is expansive. It is also at a crossroads.
Although some suggest that the history of HRD is relatively short, ASTD, the
worldwide professional organization “dedicated to workplace learning and
development professionals” (ASTD, n.d., ¶4) was founded in 1943. Its mission is
to “empower professionals to develop knowledge and skills successfully.” Many
HRD professionals are ASTD members. HRD as a field of practice has existed for
more than fifty years (Blake, 1995; Stewart & Sambrook, 2012; Wang & McLean,
2007). With that kind of history, can we continue to say it is a “young” field?
AHRD, the professional organization for the academic discipline of HRD,
was founded in 1993:
“to encourage the systematic study of Human Resource
Development (HRD) theories, processes, and practices; to
disseminate information about HRD; to encourage the application
of HRD research findings; and to provide opportunities for social
interaction among individuals with scholarly and professional
interests in HRD from multiple disciplines and from across the
globe. This remains the mission today. The organization’s vision is
‘Leading Human Resource Development through Research.’”
(AHRD, n.d., ¶1)
In looking at where HRD is now, many ASTD and AHRD members have
written on HRD as a field of practice and as an academic discipline. Rather than
write a new chronology or integrative review of HRD’s history, we acknowledge
that has already been admirably done (Hamlin & Stewart, 2011; Stewart &
Sambrook, 2012). Several of this handbook’s authors have contributed
substantially to the seminal HRD literature. Worth noting are nine journal issues
from the last ten years that specifically focused on HRD as a discipline: two
special issues of Human Resource Development International (Woodall, 2001,
2004a), and seven issues of Advances in Developing Human Resources focused on
different aspects of being and doing HRD (Garavan & McGuire, 2010; Kim &
McLean, 2012; McGuire, O’Donnell, Garavan, & Watson, 2007; Ruona & Coates,
2012; Short & Bing, 2003; Short, Kormanik, & Ruona, 2009; Storberg-Walker &
Gubbins, 2007). Other chapters in this handbook have also provided highlights.
In looking at where HRD is now, we want to acknowledge a dynamic in the
discourse among those in the field. A paradigm as a socially constructed frame of
reference, worldview, or lens through which individuals and social groups view
everything in their world (Burrell & Morgan, 1979). It provides a helpful
framework for examining the dynamic in the discourse among HRD professionals
and within the field of HRD.
insert figure 40.2 about here
Figure 40.2. Four Paradigms for Sociological Analysis
Burrell and Morgan, 1979.
Instead of identifying a singular, universal worldview for organizational
analysis, Burrell and Morgan (1979) conceptualize four paradigms that define
fundamentally different worldviews (see Figure 40.2). Development of worldview
centers on movement along two continua by making choices about the nature of
social science (e.g., ontology, epistemology, methodology, human nature) and
about the nature of society (that is, ordered regulation versus conflict of radical
change).
The dynamic in the discourse among those in HRD seems increasingly
unidimensional (either/or) rather than multidimensional (both/and). As
professionals in the field, we each have our own worldview and hold it tightly as a
touchstone for our work and life. Although one’s worldview may not change
substantially, Burrell and Morgan’s (1979) conceptualization is fluid and allows
for all four worldviews. Perhaps we should encourage movement forward in the
field, rather than being held hostage by either/or debates over definition, scope, or
research method; or to debates often tied to differing worldviews (individual
versus organizational, transactional versus transformational, performance versus
learning, qualitative versus quantitative, academia versus praxis). “Deeper
knowledge of complex phenomena arises from engaged scholarship in which
researchers and practitioners contribute pluralistic views for understanding a
complex problem” (Torraco & Yorks, 2007, p. 4). A multidimensional
interpretation allows for multiple worldviews. Transactional agreements can also
support transformation. Any effort to facilitate human flourishing can also
improve organizational performance. Any effort to improve performance can also
enhance human flourishing. Both/and not either/or.
In looking at where HRD is now, it appears that the field is increasingly
about human and sociological change (Bennett & Bierema, 2010; Callahan, 2007;
Collins, 2012; Kim, 2012; Kuchinke, 2010; Sambrook, 2012). This evolution
toward the radical humanist/radical structuralist end of Burrell and Morgan’s
nature of sociology continuum seems appropriate. Moreover, it is ironic in light of
HRD being a discipline applied in organizations where the functionalist paradigm,
concerned with providing explanation, regulation, and stability, has been the
dominant worldview. Governments, employers, and individuals invest in HRD
(Stewart, 2010). “In general, it is organizational interests that dominate HRD;
there is very little critique of the workplace, and even less critique of society,
within the dialogue of our field” (Callahan, 2007, p. 77). Our radical humanist role
is to develop individuals so they can be effective in the organizational system or,
perhaps, to emancipate them from the system. Our radical structuralist role is to
change the organizational system. That HRD professionals are humanists and
structuralists operating in largely functionalist systems will likely be an ongoing
tension for the field.
Where Do We Want/Need to Be?
Based on prevailing trends, what is the future for the field of HRD? Should
change be evolutionary or revolutionary? What could the ideal future look like?
Ruona and Coates (2012) suggest that “there is far too much attention paid to the
past and not nearly enough attention paid toward the trends, opportunities, and
challenges that are emerging and will continue to ‘pull’ on the field and our
knowledgebase” (p. 559). On the other hand, the literature focused specifically on
HRD’s future is vast, with more than thirty thousand hits when searching for
“HRD” and “future” on Google Scholar. The past decade yielded a number of
provocative pieces on the future of HRD theory, research, and practice (Callahan,
2007; Dewey & Carter, 2003; Egan, Upton, & Lynham, 2006; Kahnweiler, 2009;
Marquardt & Berger, 2003; McGuire & Cseh, 2006; Ruona, Lynham, &
Chermack, 2003; Stewart, 2007).
We envision HRD as a field of respected problem solvers and knowledge
creators in high demand in response to changes facing the workplace. Vision does
not mean ignoring history; it means building our future on the best of our past.
This vision encourages the emancipatory potential of HRD as an ally for
organizational and social change, because it means good business. It is built on a
belief in options for productivity through people. If HRD professionals and the
field as a whole are able to increase their ability to maintain and increase relevance
by adding value, the future is bright. There is the risk, however, that we will
behave like a closed system and tend toward entropy (Ruona & Coates, 2012). If
the field of HRD and its individual members are not able to demonstrate the ways
in which they add value, the future looks bleak with irrelevance and we envision a
field dismissed and fading away as other disciplines step into the vacuum left by
what was the field of HRD, while the individual members find new ways to
survive and flourish in other fields/disciplines.
What Are the Internal and External
Challenges?
What are the internal and external challenges keeping HRD from this ideal
future? There are emerging trends (Ruona, Lynham, & Chermack, 2003),
challenges (Bing, Kehrhahn, & Short, 2003), and critical uncertainties influencing
the field (Chermack, Lynham, & Ruona, 2003). Both academic and practitioner
perspectives show the challenges are perennial, as evidenced by the following
examples from the literature. Challenges internal to the field include:
§ Defining HRD (Galagan, 1986; Hamlin & Stewart, 2011; Lee, 2001;
McLagan, 1989; Nadler, 1974; Woodall, 2001)
§ Theoretical roots (Blake, 1995; Callahan, 2010; Chalofsky, 2007; Shaw
& Craig, 1994; Swanson, 2001)
§ Models for HRD (Macklin, 1982; McLagan, 1989; Reio, 2012)
§ Professional identity (e.g., theorist, scholar, academic, scholar-
practitioner, practitioner) (Cooper, 1975; Short & Shindell, 2009;
Watkins, 1991; Willis, 2011; Wimbiscus, 1995)
§ Roles/differentiating HRD (Nadler, 1974; Ruona & Gibson, 2004;
Watkins, 1991)
§ Disparate worldviews, theories, philosophies (Ardichvili, 2012;
McGoldrick, Stewart, & Watson, 2001; O’Donnell, McGuire, & Cross,
2006; Roth, 2000; Ruona, 2000; Ruona & Lynham, 2004; Storberg-
Walker, 2012)
§ Critical HRD (Callahan, 2007; Fenwick, 2005; Sambrook, 2004, 2012;
Trehan, Rigg, & Stewart, 2006)
§ Professionalization/career issues (Chalofsky, 1985; Galagan, 1996;
Hamlin, Ellinger, & Beattie, 2008; Hatcher, 2006; Kahnweiler, 2009;
Olson, 1981; Rao, 1982)
§ Professional education/academic programs (Akdere & Conceição, 2009;
Gayeski, 1981)
§ Certification and meaningful governance (Carliner, 2012; Ellinger,
1996; Gilley & Galbraith, 1986)
Challenges bridging the internal and external facets of the field:
§ HRD research (Cho & Egan, 2009; Garavan, Gunnigle, & Morley,
2000; Poell, 2007; Stewart, 2007; Toppins, 1989)
§ Linking research to practice (Denova, 1969; Keefer & Yap, 2007;
Kuchinke, 2004; Leimbach & Baldwin, 1997; Woodall, 2004b)
§ Morals, values, ethics (Chalofsky, 2000; Kuchinke, 2010; Russ-Eft &
Hatcher, 2003; Stewart, 1998; Trehan, 2004)
§ Expansion of practice domains (Bennett & Bierema, 2010; Kahnweiler,
2008; Lee, 2010; McLagan, 1989; Poell, 2012; Scully-Russ, 2012; Yeo
& Gold, 2011)
§ Social responsibility (Cornelius, Todres, Janjuha-Jivraj, Woods, &
Wallace, 2008; Fenwick & Bierema, 2008; McGuire & Garavan, 2010)
§ Evaluating the HRD function (Ford, 1993; Rothwell, 1983; Snyder,
Raben, & Farr, 1980[AU: please add to the reference list])
§ Value proposition in relation to organizational customers (Bader &
Stitch, 1993; Egan, 2011; Graham, 2003; May, Sherlock, & Mabry,
2003; Walters, 1980)
§ Training transfer (Burke & Hutchins, 2007; Kelly, 1982)
Challenges external to the field include:
§ Shifts in adult/workplace/organizational learning (Jayanti, 2012;
Rowden, 1996; Watkins, 1995)
§ Influence of technology (Kearsley, 1984, Waddill & Marquardt, 2011)
§ Resource management and economics at macro and micro levels
(Carkhuff, 1984; Kuchinke, 2009)
§ Globalization (Fenwick, 2011; Fest, 1979; Marquardt & Berger, 2003;
Nijhof, 2004)
A number of these internal and external challenges have been addressed in
previous chapters of this handbook, including Lee’s discussion on defining HRD,
Fenwick’s discussion on corporate social responsibility, Ruona’s discussion of
talent management, and York’s application of strategic thinking. Although the
challenges can be opportunities or threats to organizations, we look at the
challenges to the field of HRD, noting opportunities that the field should capitalize
upon and threats the field should try to mitigate.
There are many opportunities, especially under-realized opportunities, on
the current horizon for HRD in such areas as technology, being a “value add,” the
scope of the field, the global knowledge economy, the “curation of knowledge
content,” diversity and incivility, and new theory. Technology is evolving at an
extremely rapid rate with many new products and services. The way in which
HRD participates in technology-aided learning, the creation and deployment of
learning software and systems, or even the creation of “virtual HRD”
environments are critical for the field. Even robotics where machines replace
human workers need “training” in order utilize their artificial intelligence to do
their jobs (Nova Science Now, n.d.). A new specialization of HRD for non-
humans is coming. Demonstrating the “value add” to HRD’s customers is a great
opportunity for the field as well. “Research does not have to be driven by practice,
but in an applied field such as HRD it has to have some connection” (Stewart,
2007, p. 95). There are several clear ways HRD can demonstrate its value by
increasing the links between HRD and business strategy, matching the values of
HRD to those of our customers, or even the “co-creation of value with our
customers” (Marsick, 2007, p. 90).
The scope of the field is changing, creating opportunity. Such issues as
social responsibility and social action are natural extensions of the idea of
corporate citizenship. This movement is expanding to include such areas as
environmental or green HRD. The “recognition of HRD as important in national,
organizational, and individual growth” (Stewart, 2007, p. 95) is a key concept for
the field to truly embrace and expand its scope. Another opportunity is the
“changing, global knowledge economy” (Marsick, 2007, p. 89). Whether on the
cutting edge in a first-world economy or being a strategic business partner in a
second-world economy or providing basic adult education in a struggling third-
world economy, there are many opportunities for HRD to create and transfer
knowledge. With the “curation of content” (Lombardozzi, 2012) in digital and
other forms, the field of HRD can be in a broker role, a content expert role, or
even a co-curator role. “Customers today are informed, interactive, and
networked; and prefer to actively shape products and services to their own needs
and interests” (Marsick, 2007, p. 89). HRD can also capitalize on diversity and
incivility initiatives (Githens, 2011; Kormanik, 2009) by being an even more
strategic partner in improving workplace relationships. The final opportunity we
identified is the development of new theory (Chermack & Kasshanna, 2007;
Moats, Chermack & Dooley, 2008). There is “no limit on the opportunities for
meaning and sense making” (Poell, 2007, p. 76) for the field of HRD.
There are many threats that HRD is not well prepared to deal with
effectively, including worker core competencies, changes in the workplace,
competition, data security, changes in the workforce, and increasing
accountability/regulation (SHRM, 2012a). A huge threat facing the United States
(and many other countries) lies in not being able to ensure that our current and
future workers will have the core competencies needed by current and future
employers (Clardy, 2008; SHRM, 2011). The ramifications of this threat are
pervasive and wide, impacting the economy and quality of life for every worker
and workplace that is deficient.
Many threats to HRD come from changes in the workplace, such as virtual
workplaces, teams, jobs, and desktops; increases in social and workplace incivility
and its impact on business relationships and workplace culture; increases in
competition, whether it be in the forms of new knowledge or open access to
information or even from an increase of learners desiring to control their learning
themselves. Another threat that HRD is not fully prepared for is the hacking of
sensitive data (SHRM, 2011). Whether in the form of student records, customer
profiles, or even emerging technologies and products; the safety and security of
privileged or private information are crucial. Changes in workforce demographics
are a threat for HRD (SHRM, 2012a). The increasing diversity includes the
growing percentage of women, many of whom are single mothers with unique
needs; the aging workforce, ready to retire and take their knowledge with them or
needing to continue working solely for economic reasons; emergent generational
differences with Millennials with varying educations as the largest percentage of
the workforce; and increasing feelings of threat by some white males and a
backlash toward HR programs and practices (Githens, 2011; Kormanik, 2008;
SHRM, 2012b). Oversight and regulation are also a threat to HRD, as “workplaces
are controlled by conventions and job duties and the intimidation of obedience to
authority, threats of discipline and/or dismissal, and governmental regulations that
govern treatment of employees” (Hatcher, 2006, p. 76).
Four Key Issues
Distilled from both internal and external challenges identified in the
previous section, we see four key issues framing the future direction for HRD:
relevance, governance/certification, technology, and ethics/integrity.
Relevance is something individuals, companies, and professions do not like
to contemplate. An undiscussable is an organizational issue not discussed openly,
because open discussion may challenge the existing underlying assumptions and
practices around the issue (Argyris, 1980). Relevance seems to be an
undiscussable for the field of HRD. It is fundamental, however, that a profession
can only survive by remaining relevant to those who utilize it. “We are a field that
is pulled by its practice” (Ruona & Coates, 2012, p. 560). There is “too much
order taking and fewer instances of engaged performance consulting” (Egan, 2011,
p. 223). We must show ourselves as proactive in anticipating the needs of practice.
Twenty years ago, an HRD practitioner knowledgeable and skilled in one
or two areasadult learning, curriculum development, platform skillscould
survive and flourish. That is certainly not the case today. Contemporary HRD
practitioners must not only posses platform skills and be knowledgeable about
adult learning and curriculum development, but they must also serve as internal
consultants who are also knowledgeable in systems thinking, group dynamics,
technology, and more. The same challenges and trends hold true for HRD
theorists, scholars, researchers, and scholar-practitioners. The multidisciplinary
field of HRD now encompasses an ever-expanding breadth of content expertise.
Staying relevant is a constant challenge that individuals and fields must embrace.
Governance/certification is a longstanding issue in the world of HRD.
Krishna’s earlier chapter on certification of HRD professionals explores the issue.
Even with the implementation of ASTD’s Workplace Learning Professional
(WLP) certification, the field of HRD neither rallies around nor fully utilizes this
certification. The certification does not appear in position postings as a
“requirement” or “preferred requirement.” In contrast, human resource
professionals have embraced the Human Resource Certification Institute’s
Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification to such an extent that it
appears in position postings as a job requirement, and professional conferences in
this field often provide continuing education credits toward recertification. Not
only does HRD not rally around our current governance structure, but there are
still many who question the need or purpose of such a certification. This leads us
to the real issue: HRD is not currently aligned around the need for governance.
This may be the result of a field that was created from so many other disciplines
that it is even challenging to definelet alone governsuch a diverse entity.
Determining whether governance and certification currently in place are needed,
wanted, helpful, or appropriate is the opportunity facing the field.
Technology is a broad issue that includes challenges such as how to
integrate technology (web-based instruction, Internet-based videoconferencing)
into our HRD activities as well as questioning the effectiveness and
appropriateness of such utilization. Is it really effective and meaningful to use
videoconferencing to create a virtual global team? Is it truly appropriate to teach
interpersonal skills such as active listening in an online course format? At the
same time, technology creates opportunities to reach more individuals more
quickly at a lower cost, which is very appealing in tough economic times. While
there may not be clear answers that apply to everyone in all situations, no
individual, organization, or field will be able to avoid dealing with technology and
embracing it as some level. The key for HRD is to do it effectively.
Ethics/integrity is a constant battle in any field. Russ-Eft’s earlier chapter
explored morality and ethics in HRD. There is a widespread joke in the training
arena that practitioners can “steal shamelessly from each other. Just make sure to
cite the source” without regard for copyright laws. While this may seem like a
victimless crime, this is far from the case. Is poor practice a victimless crime? Is
the training provided to loan officers in any way responsible for the mortgage
crisis that impacted the global economy? Was the training provided to FEMA
managers in any way responsible for the untimely response to Gulf Coast states
devastated by hurricane Katrina? Is the training done in our organizations around
sexual harassment or discrimination sufficient and protective? The issue for the
field of HRDmuch like other disciplines such as health care, finance, or even
educationis that lapses in ethics and integrity can have devastating results.
More to the point, do we as HRD professionals provide solutions to our
clients, even though we know they will not be very effective? Do we provide
training as a “solution,” even though we know better? Researchers and scholars
have similar issues in conducting and reporting research. No one is exempt.
Individuals, organizations, and disciplines all have constant challenges to behave
with integrity. While the field does have standards for ethical practice and research
promulgated through the AHRD, the widespread adoption of them is questionable,
let alone any enforcement or even sanctions if they are not followed. The
opportunity for HRD lies in embracing and promoting ethics and integrity.
What Should We Do to Achieve the
Ideal Future?
What should we do as a field to achieve the ideal future? What should we
do as individuals (theorists, researchers, scholars, scholar-practitioners, and
practitioners) and within organizations? As a field, we are comprised of
individuals and collectives. The field can achieve the ideal future through actions
at individual and collective levels, as described below.
Relevance. To stay relevant is to continue to add value. As individuals,
staying abreast of current trends, needs, and issues is one approach to maintaining
relevance. Another might be to specialize or even create a new area of
specialization either in knowledge or practice. For the field of HRD, though, the
challenge is much greater. What constitutes HRD continues to grow and expand.
The list of core HRD competencies first developed by the American Society for
Training and Development has evolved and shifted over time. The field of HRD
has often been described as a patchwork quilt comprised of bits and pieces from
other disciplines such as adult learning, industrial/organizational psychology, and
developmental psychology. Currently, we could add disciplines such as software
engineering, business management, talent management, consulting, and global
commerce, to name a few.
To be clear, it is not just adding disciplines to expand HRD’s repertoire to
ensure relevance. HRD and the individuals who comprise the field also need an
ever-widening set of skills, including coaching, process expertise, and subject
matter expertise that is relevant to their customers or organizations. For example, a
financial consulting firm needs an HRD professional who understands the field of
financial advising in order to more effectively serve the organization. A university
needs a researcher who understands human subject standards for all the countries
in his or her sample, not just the country sponsoring the study. Further, what the
field should be researching is what is relevant to its practitioners. For example,
rather than comparing the inter-rater reliability of two different but similar
performance assessments, what if the field researched real-world challenges facing
HRD professionals in the field?
Our academic programs need to offer coursework that prepares HRD
professionals to interact in the world of business from a global perspective. How
powerful and relevant would it be if questions such as “How can one best deal
with a boss with psychological issues?” or “How can one best approach a
counterpart who accepts no personal responsibility and lies?” or “How can I
effectively manage conflict and communication problems on a global virtual
team?” or “How can we most effectively intervene in an executive suite that has
isolated itself from the rest of the organization?” Discovering answers to these
questions and helping to develop tools practitioners and their clients can use would
greatly increase the relevance of HRD. This will be necessary for the field of HRD
to remain relevant.
An additional aspect of relevance deserves mention. Often, we hear both
scholars and practitionersin their own unique ways whether at the corporate
table or having an academic program recognized as a legitimate and worthy of
resources by their institutionssay they want a “seat at the table”. In fact, there
have been several editorials on how to gain that seat. Looking toward the future, to
have a seat at the table an individual or a field has to be relevant. It has to add
value. It needs to be needed. How do we ensure this going forward?
At the individual level, add value. Be supportive. Continue to learn, grow,
and develop. At the level of the field, we need to be inclusive of ideas, concepts,
and needs. Our definition of core competencies and identification of areas for
research has to be geared to the majority of professionals in the fieldHRD
practitioners. Tackling organizational issues that are ambiguous and complex.
Creating useful tools based on research and best practice. There is no easier way to
get an invitation to the table to help lead the organization than to be a problem
solver for the organization. HRD and its individual members should consider
changing their outlook from the old sphere of influence to a new outlookthe
sphere of helpful collaboration. That is a great leadership opportunity for HRD.
Governance/certification. As individuals, should there be a recognized and
consistently utilized certification or licensure in HRD, we should strive to support
it by participating in that process. However, the individual response is not the
leverage point. For HRD as a profession to move forward, obtaining clarity around
such issues as who governs, what they govern, and how they govern are critical.
Who should govern? ASTD? AHRD? Others? A joint commission or task force?
What should they govern? Professional standards? Codes of conduct? What
constitutes the knowledge domain of HRD? How will they govern? Membership
oversight? Licensure? Certification? These are challenging questions that must be
addressed in such a way that there is support from a wide range of constituents
across the field of HRD who are in various roles (theorists, researchers, scholars,
scholar-practitioners, and practitioners ).
Technology. As individuals, no matter our roles, we have a responsibility
going forward to be aware of technology and to utilize it as appropriately as
possible. We also have to consider such issues as identity theft, security, privacy,
and so on, whether this is for individuals utilizing technology in online learning
situations or even through texting or email with a client. As a field, how best to
embrace and utilize technology should be a topic of much discussion, exploration,
and research. Best practices should be collected and shared, along with research
results that should guide practice such that more good than harm is the result of
utilizing technology.
Ethics/integrity. As individual HRD professionals in whatever role(s) we
fulfill, our duty and obligation is to act ethically with integrity. For example, is it
ethical to charge one client for all the development costs for a new online course
or should the development costs be spread out over several clients? How should
one respond when a client asks, “Is it me?” and the HRD professional knows
beyond a shadow of doubt that the answer should be “Yes” and clearly
understands that several thousand dollars of future work based on this relationship
are at stake? Those may be individual challenges, but what about the field of
HRD? Going forward, the field must develop guidelines for ethical practice.
Further, not only do guidelines have to be developed, but they need to be
disseminated through our higher education institutions and our professional
associations. But even more is needed looking toward the future. We need to find
ways to both incorporate and leverage diversity. The world is getting smaller, and
we need to interact appropriately with everyone, no matter the perceived
differences. There eventually must be some mechanism to monitor compliance
with the guidelines developed. Finally, a means of sanctioning those HRD
professionals who do not abide by or violate the guidelines for ethical conduct
should be developed and implemented.
Conclusion
The purpose of this chapter was to propose some future directions for the
field of HRD. Our approach started with a look at the current state of HRD at
individual (theorists, researchers, scholars, scholar-practitioners, and practitioners)
and collective levels (academia, practice). Second, we proposed an ideal vision for
the future. Third, we examined the challenges and barriers keeping HRD from this
ideal future, focusing on four issues we think are key: relevance,
governance/certification, technology, and ethics/integrity. Fourth, we proposed
actions to take as a fieldat individual and collective levelsto achieve the ideal
future for HRD, so that we are ready to “build, challenge, and improve mental
models of what is and what could be so that we can pivot toward the future”
(Ruona & Coates, 2012, p. 561).
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