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

R.F. Poell, F.J. van der Krogt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


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 first part, the problem is stated and the backgrounds and basic tenets of learning-network theory are addressed.
The paper first describes three approaches to organizing HRD, namely, as a training issue: customization by HRD practitioners; as a learning issue: didactic self-direction by employees; and as a strategic issue for employees and managers: micro-politics. The learning-network theory is then introduced as an integration of these three approaches. It presents a number of key organizational actors that organize four HRD processes, each operating strategically in their own way.
Organizing HRD is mostly viewed as designing training courses and instruction sessions for employees; it is also predominantly understood as a tool of management. A network perspective on organizing HRD is better able to guide organizational actors than other approaches can.
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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-193
JournalThe Learning Organization
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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