A framework of power: Shaping the 'critical' in human resource development

J.L. Callahan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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As a field, human resource development (HRD) is still relatively new. Although the concepts and functions associated with HRD can be traced to historic approaches to work-related learning, the field emerged as a distinct entity out of training and development efforts during and after World War II. For much of the field’s history, scholars and practitioners emphasized a bottom-line interest in improving performance and productivity through development activities (organization development, career development, and training and development). Early admonitions to engage in ‘training revolutionaries’ remained dormant until contemporary scholars began to offer alternative perspectives that challenged the managerialism in HRD. These new perspectives, called Critical Human Resource Development (CHRD), focus on the processes of engaging human and organizational systems that relate, organize, learn, and change in ways that optimize not only organization advancement, but also human interest and social impact. Crucial to advancing CHRD is understanding the power interests that frustrate and facilitate these processes. To that end, this dissertation compiles five published articles which, collectively, address issues of where power lies within a given context, who benefits (and suffers) from the application of power, and how (and why) power is enacted. The core articles contain explorations of the power of ideology to define beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors. This work contributes to the broader field of HRD in at least three ways. First, it provides a framework for a new way of viewing HRD from a critical perspective through practices of relating, organizing, learning, and changing. Second, it offers insight into how power can be understood within the field of HRD as defining, using, and resisting. And, finally, it addresses how CHRD can engage in the power to that leads to activism by HRD professionals.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • TS Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Poell, Rob, Promotor
  • Bierema, Laura, Promotor, External person
  • Benschop, Yvonne, Member PhD commission, External person
  • Elliott, Carole, Member PhD commission, External person
  • Marsick, Victoria, Member PhD commission, External person
  • Saunders, Mark, Member PhD commission, External person
Award date10 May 2019
Place of Publications.l.
Print ISBNs978-94-6375-397-5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Critical Human Resource Development
  • Critical Management Studies
  • Power
  • Human Resource Development
  • Incivility
  • Social Movements
  • Self-Plagiarism
  • Online learning


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