Human Resource Development in a Knowledge Economy – An Organisational View

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 1 June 2004



Cattell, A. (2004), "Human Resource Development in a Knowledge Economy – An Organisational View", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 178-178.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The authors state aim of this text is to critically review the HRD's development and current status as an organisational process, and which also identifies new HRD roles and tasks in an emergent knowledge economy. Within this context they seek to link organisationally based HRD powerfully to that of learning and development. As such they draw on up to date literature and research from Europe, Japan and the USA, and their own considerable experience as academics and international authors. The book is of particular interest to readers with an interest in the strategic aspects of integrating HRD with HRM and the wider strategy of organisations.

The text is divided into three distinct thematic areas. The first explores the emerging knowledge economy in terms of the business and human resource agenda facing organisations. The second majors on organisational application of theory and practice as regards building knowledge productive organisations. The third concentrates on the key issue of ethics and the challenges of a knowledge economy. To do so, past, current and future perspectives are considered, reflected upon and challenged. In doing so the authors utilise practical case examples and research examples to identify and explore issues, thus finding an excellent balance between theory and practice. Reflective questions within the text and thought provoking assignments within the appendices further assist the reader to consider the implications of what they have read.

The reader is left with the impression that no stone has been left unturned in meeting the aims expressed in the introduction by Harrison and Kessels. This is not a dip into, dip out of text, but demands full attention if one is to gain maximum benefit from reading it. Having said that, the writing style and structure of the book whilst initially feeling rather daunting, draws you into a deeper level of interest and consequent understanding, which is a unique quality of the text.

Amongst the range of issues identified and explored as regards challenges for the future are:

  • competitive advantage and adding value through integrated human resources strategy;

  • strategy as a process;

  • HRD: country frameworks;

  • hard and soft human resources models;

  • organisational structure, culture, and learning culture;

  • the interrelationship between work and learning and lifelong learning;

  • performance versus learning;

  • high quality workplace learning processes;

  • new technology, the knowledge process and HRD;

  • development of knowledge and non‐knowledge workers;

  • ethical considerations;

  • new roles and tasks for HRD professionals; and

  • where to locate human resources development.

The references section of the book is exhaustive as is the author index, a feature that will enable those wanting to delve even deeper to do so with comparative ease. In terms of providing overview of the current state of play, strategic insights, implementation considerations and identification of future challenges for HRD and for organisations, this book has it all. Additionally readers are also challenged to consider each of these at individual level as regards their current and future role. The message to take away is – ignore the issues identified in this book and the advice given at your peril! This is a quality text that is positively forward looking and represents excellent value for money.

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