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Critically evaluate the extent to which academic research enables practitioners to meet todays HRD challenges

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Introduction

Criticall evaluate the extent to which academic research enables practitioners to meet todays HRD challenges ________________ ?HRD practice does not come close to what we know from sound theory? (Swanson, R.A. 2001) This paper will evaluate the extent to which academic research into Human Resource Development (HRD) practices enables practitioners to meet the challenges they are presented with in today?s fast-changing workplace. By considering the issue from various adverse perspectives, using a range of academic evidence, it will give a rounded critical evaluation of the topic. It will also critique the potential benefits and limitations of using academic research to the practical development of HRD policies and strategies intended to meet corporate objectives at organisational, group and individual levels. The theoretical HRD research upon which practical applications are based will be considered in terms of both findings and methodology. An evaluation will also be given of the current debate in relation to the concept of the ?theory-practice gap? and developing on this a discussion of the nature of academic research. To what extent does academic research enable, if it is meant to at all, the work of HRD practitioners? But also if the position is taken that academic research is not there to enable the work of HRD practitioners what is its purpose? Following on from this, the paper will deal with specific HRD challenges in the current workplace and how theory is, or is not, useful in considering these issues. Firstly, as necessary groundwork the issue raised by the lack of clarity in respect to a usable definition of HRD needs to be addressed. It is widely recognised that HRD is a discipline with a background in other fields such as sociology, psychology, education, organisational behaviour and other social sciences. ...read more.

Middle

?Just as our colleagues in the world of practice are faced with building credibility with senior line management, HRD scholars working within an academic setting are confronted with building credibility with deans and senior academic officers? (2005, p.112). And the ability to build this credibility lies on different foundations. HRD scholars build their credibility not on the practicality of the research they produce but on the rigor with which it is conducted and the respect and usage it gains from others in the academic community. With the possibility that a piece of academic HRD research may gain significant acclaim for its scholar, while at the same time having no impact on the world of the practitioner a strong one, what is the incentive to produce work designed to enable practitioners to meet real organisational problems? It is in creating this world that Bennis and O?Toole (2005), cited in Markides (2011) can argue that business schools have lost their way in the past 30 years by focusing too much on doing ?scientific? research that has no real practical value. According to Swanson (1997) theory, research, development and practice should go together to form a cycle that allows ideas to be gradually refined as they evolve from concepts into practices and from practices into concepts. This cycle allows for the different elements of the process of constructing HRD thought to be seen as completely interrelated. The union of the research and practitioner spaces also creates an impression of equilibrium between the two and suggests the need for all to inform each other so that the HRD profession as a whole can be enhanced. What are then some of the specific challenges facing today?s HRD practitioner and to what extent can research be seen to be enabling them to be met. ...read more.

Conclusion

This can lead to academic research into HRD becoming something of an exercise in ?preaching to the choir?. The result being that HRD does not gain the understanding or impact that it perhaps deserves. McGoldrick, citing Jacobs (2000), does not see this as an issue and indeed states, ?the emergence of HRD-related journals has presented an opportunity to define the field on basis of theory and practice. Yorks, citing Torraco, pointed to the belief that despite the acknowledgement of the issue of the research ? practice link being one of the most significant challenges for HRD ?the gap between research and practice has been widening, not closing?and successfully bridging this gap goes to the heart of our Academy?s commitment to improving practice through sound theory and research? (2005, p.111). While accepting that there is a need to ?bridge? the gap between research and practice it should also be acknowledged that they are two different things and it is for the benefit of the HRD profession that they remain so. As Yorks states, ?the tension between the worlds of theory and practice can work to the advantage of both.? (2005, p.112). HRD is a relatively young discipline and there are significant challenges to its future. Failing to acknowledge these challenges will run the risk of marginalising HRD within organisations and seeing the advancements made since the days of the ?training department? being lost. Unless HRD practitioners with the assistance of academic researchers can provide a professional service that is more focused on delivering business outcomes in a measurable and time critical way and supported by a stronger theoretical basis HRD risks being side-lined within the organisation. ...read more.

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