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Why is organizing human resource development so problematic? Perspectives from the learning-network theory (Part II)

Rob F. Poell (Department of Human Resource Studies, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands)
Ferd Van Der Krogt (Department of Education, Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

The Learning Organization

ISSN: 0969-6474

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




Human resource development (HRD) is an important field within management. Developing employees is often regarded as an instrument to improve the internal labor market and support organizational change. Organizing HRD to these ends, however, is frequently a problematic affair, in terms of training effectiveness, participant motivation and added value. This study, which consists of two parts, aims to investigate the question of why this is the case. In this second part, two specific aspects of the learning-network theory are elaborated: multiple experiences in organizations forming the basis of employee learning and development, and different actor strategies for organizing HRD.


The paper presents a conceptual framework to argue that one of the main reasons why organizing HRD is problematic lies in the limited and one-sided conceptualization of organizing HRD that is often used.


Organizing HRD is mostly viewed as designing training courses and instruction sessions for employees; it is also predominantly understood as a tool of management. The paper proposes a network perspective on organizing HRD, which is better able to guide organizational actors than other approaches can, by taking into account a broader set of HRD practices and viewing employees (besides managers) as key stakeholders.


The study argues that organizing HRD needs to take into account learning experiences that employees can gain from participating in work and career development as well (besides formal training); moreover, that employees’ HRD strategies are at least as important as those used by line managers and HR practitioners.



Poell, R.F. and Van Der Krogt, F. (2017), "Why is organizing human resource development so problematic? Perspectives from the learning-network theory (Part II)", The Learning Organization, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 215-225.



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