Human Resources Development: Process, Practices and Perspectives

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 14 March 2008



Cattell, A. (2008), "Human Resources Development: Process, Practices and Perspectives", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 112-113.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book is a second edition, the first having been published in 2002 under the title Learning and Development. In his introduction the author Stephen Gibb explains that the title has been changed to reflect contemporary usage and that while the text retains the overall approach of the first edition, there is some modification in structure and content. Gibb is Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK and Director of the Centre for Executive Education at Strathclyde Business School. The book is of equal value to those studying the subject area at undergraduate or postgraduate levels and/or those seeking to enhance their professional development. In this regard the text is mapped against Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (UK) Standards.

The author's stated aim for the text is to provide a resource which supports and challenges, identifies and explores the core propositions that successful people, companies and countries will require to seriously support and manage HRD at work.

The text has 16 Chapters and is divided into three Parts which follow the Process, Practices and Perspective elements contained in the title of the book. A framework of each of these elements is presented within the book in which each interacts with the other.

Part 1 considers: HRD Needs: People, Work and Organisations; Design for HRD: Principles and Applications; Managing the Workplace: HRD in Action; HRD Quality: Reviewing and Evaluating; HRD Theory.

Part 2 explores: HRD Strategies: Systems, Roles and Outcomes; Development Partnerships: Coaching and Mentoring; Learning in Groups; Technology and Change in HRD; HRD Provider Organisations.

Part 3 examines: Public Policy and HRD; Knowledge Management and Communities of Practice; HRD and Diversity; Strategy Perspectives and HRD; Looking ahead: Horizons Old and New.

For those who purchased the first edition, the new chapters are in the areas of learning in groups, diversity, learning and development providers and strategic HRD. The major revisions are to the chapters on HRD partnership, theory in HRD, and HRD strategies.

A major message from the author is that he considers that students of HRD need to become more design conscious and aware in respect of thinking how to arrive at solutions to problems and make design decisions that deliver effective HRD. He also points towards the lack of “content stability” that makes both designing solutions and writing books on HRD, challenging within an environment of constant change.

As a resource the text presents a range of activities, some which are used in each chapter and some which are spread across different chapters. They all provide an excellent vehicle for reflection and action in equal measure and include chapter learning objectives, models of best practice, concepts, diagrams and frameworks, useful resource addresses and URL's, case studies, short case questions and answers, exercises and multiple choice questions and answers. Theory and research, operations views and strategic views are labelled and presented in boxes which identify them as such. The book is packed full of ideas and approaches which are presented in a reader friendly format which invites revisiting the text rather than taking a cursory glance.

The subject is well researched and the references at the end of each chapter present the reader with an up‐to‐date list of resources for further investigation. Although academic in terms of the origins of the author this is a text for both students and practitioners of HRD and presents an up‐to‐date view of the state of HRD as it stands currently.

In the final chapter of the text, Stephen Gibb highlights the challenges facing the learner/practitioner and restates the aim of the second edition “to help take students through these challenges and present a treatment of HRD that is integrated, contemporary, evidence‐based and as open‐to‐enquiry as possible. This means approaching HRD at work as a process that is an integral part of the management of the organisation”. He also counsels against relying on the constructs, models and concepts of others but regarding these as open to question, challenge and change. In effect “critical study” and reflection of these and practices within organisations is a way of doing this. Gibb observes “critical thinking on its own is not sufficient in constructing your own understanding. That takes time and experience and action.”

This book is an excellent introduction towards starting that process or reviewing your current practice.

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