Approaches to Training and Development: New Perspectives in Organizational Learning, Performance and Change

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



Cattell, A. (2004), "Approaches to Training and Development: New Perspectives in Organizational Learning, Performance and Change", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 36 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Approaches to Training and Development: New Perspectives in Organizational Learning, Performance and Change

Approaches to Training and Development: New Perspectives in Organizational Learning, Performance and Change

Dugan Laird revised and updated by Sharon Naquin and Elwood Holton IIIPerseus Publishing20033rd ed.352 pp.ISBN 0738206989US $32.50/UK £24.50 (paperback)

Keywords: Training, Human resource development, Learning processes

Review DOI 10.1108/00197850410556711

This book is unusual in that the first two editions were written by Dugan Laird the original author, who died in 1984. The third edition has been revised and updated 17 years after the last revision, by Naquin and Holton, two Professors of Human Resource Development at Louisiana State University. They state that although 50 percent of the content of the book has changed to reflect new approaches in Training and Development and HRD, the other 50 percent still bears the hallmark and forward thinking approach of the original author. As such they also state that Lairds' “performance orientated approach to training is as important as ever”. The text is clearly targeted towards those who need a good basic grounding in the how to and practice of training and development management within the wider context of HRD.

The book contains 19 Chapters which is not unsurprisingly chart the journey from distinguishing training needs assessment to assessing the results of training programmes. The phraseology used throughout the text along with the case studies, research and theory quoted, identifies the book from the outset as having been written in the USA. A feature of the manner in which the book is written is that it successfully identifies both traditional and new approaches to training and development and suggests where each can be used appropriately.

The changing function and role of Training and Development Departments and Managers and where responsibility for training and development fits within an organizational structure are explored. A chapter entitled “Training isn't always the solution” looks at the expanding role of those involved in training, as internal consultants and organizational development interventionists who are expected to solve human performance problems for their organizations. In general the book examines the methods, functions and goals of training in a readable and easy to follow format which finds a good balance between the practical and the theoretical.

A number of chapters are notable in making the reader reflect on the content of what is being proposed. The case for writing effective learning objectives is covered using both narrative and tables which the reader can simply and practically apply. The chapter on How People Learn covers key theoretical approaches in a manner which enables the reader to understand, compare and contrast. The table showing such comparisons describes potentially complex theoretical considerations in an easily digestable form. Enhancing the transfer of learning suggests simple means of identifying, improving and closing the transfer gap. Assessing the results of training programmes suggests Swanson and Holtons' Results Assessment System model as an alternative to the more traditional Kirkpatrick model of evaluation of training programmes.

The Chapters on Instructional Methods, Teaching Techniques, Training Facilities and Training and Development Budgets are perhaps of less interest to the relatively experienced practitioner but contained basic and helpful advice for those new to the field. Swanson and Holton seem to be cited on a number of occasions as are research results from the American Society for Training and Development. Few, if any authors, from outside the USA are identified within the text or references. The book also firmly places training and development in the performance improvement arena. These are the areas which as stated earlier give the book a distinctly American flavour.

The style that the book is written in makes it an easy read whether the reader wishes to read from the first chapter to the last or to digest the text in bite-sized chunks on an as and when basis. Tables, figures, case studies and diagrams break up the text and provide punctuation and interest without bombarding the reader with too much information.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the book is that because of the difference in timescale between the 2nd and 3rd editions, the new and the traditional are contrasted in the spirit of continuous change and improvement.

Alan Cattell