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L&D professionals in organisations: much ambition, unfilled promise

Thomas N. Garavan (The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)
Sinead Heneghan (Irish Institute of Training and Development, Co. Kildare, Ireland)
Fergal O’Brien (Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland)
Claire Gubbins (HRM and Organisational Psychology Group, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland)
Yanqing Lai (The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)
Ronan Carbery (Cork University Business School, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)
James Duggan (Cork University Business School, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)
Ronnie Lannon (The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)
Maura Sheehan (The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)
Kirsteen Grant (The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 5 December 2019

Issue publication date: 5 February 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

This monograph reports on the strategic and operational roles of learning and development (L&D) professionals in Irish, UK European and US organisations including multinational corporations, small to medium enterprises, the public sector and not for profit organisations. This paper aims to investigate the contextual factors influencing L&D roles in organisations, the strategic and operational roles that L&D professionals play in organisations, the competencies and career trajectories of L&D professionals, the perceptions of multiple internal stakeholders of the effectiveness of L&D roles and the relationships between context, L&D roles, competencies/expertise and perceived organisational effectiveness.

Design/methodology/approach

The study findings are based on the use of multiple methods. The authors gathered data from executives, senior managers, line managers, employee and L&D professionals using multiple methods: a survey (n = 440), Delphi study (n = 125) and semi-structured interviews (n = 30).

Findings

The analysis revealed that L&D professionals increasingly respond to a multiplicity of external and internal contextual influences and internal stakeholders perceived the effectiveness of L&D professionals differently with significant gaps in perceptions of what L&D contributes to organisational effectiveness. L&D professionals perform both strategic and operational roles in organisations and they progress through four career levels. Each L&D role and career level requires a distinct and unique set of foundational competencies and L&D expertise. The authors found that different contextual predictors were important in explaining the perceived effectiveness of L&D roles and the importance attached to different foundational competencies and areas of L&D expertise.

Originality/value

This is one of the few studies to have investigated the L&D professional role in organisations from the perspective of multiple stakeholders using multiple research methods.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded and conducted in collaboration with the Irish Institute of Training and Development (IITD), Republic of Ireland.

Citation

Garavan, T.N., Heneghan, S., O’Brien, F., Gubbins, C., Lai, Y., Carbery, R., Duggan, J., Lannon, R., Sheehan, M. and Grant, K. (2020), "L&D professionals in organisations: much ambition, unfilled promise", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 44 No. 1, pp. 1-86. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJTD-09-2019-0166

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited