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National HRD: a new paradigm or reinvention of the wheel?

Greg G. Wang (The University of Texas at Tyler, Tyler, Texas, USA)

Journal of European Industrial Training

ISSN: 0309-0590

Article publication date: 9 May 2008




The purpose of this paper is to analyze a new research topic, national human resource development (NHRD) for neglected but critical components of economics foundation and accumulated international development research and practices.


Through a targeted literature review on NHRD writing, major development economics theory, and international development literatures, this study conducted a critical content analysis.


The findings in the paper are: current research on NHRD has not advanced our knowledge in economic development, human development, and human resource development under different cultural contexts; the HRD concept used by economists means human development (HD), the domain of HRD should not be extended to HD and HRD scholars should understand the different meaning of the same terms used in different fields determined by the contextual and historical background of the field; NHRD should be renamed as HRD national policy studies, and should be firmly based on economic foundation and incorporating accumulated knowledge in international development. Otherwise, the idea of NHRD is to reinvent the wheel with much less scholarly rigor.

Research limitations/implications

HRD research should be firmly based on its theoretical foundations and accumulated knowledge in other related areas. HRD should not define itself by a concept defined by another field, even with the same wording.

Practical implications

As HRD national policy studies, HRD professionals may contribute economic development by analyzing HRD‐related policy implementation and propose policy recommendations by working with existing development communities.


This paper is important for HRD scholars to explore a new research and practice frontier. It calls attention to properly positioning HRD's role in national economic development and clarifies some misunderstandings in the NHRD literature.



Wang, G.G. (2008), "National HRD: a new paradigm or reinvention of the wheel?", Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 303-316.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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