Re: Is Human Resource Development Bogus? YES!

GAWNE, SEAN (gawnesm@songs.sce.com)
Tue, 01 Nov 94 20:44:51 pst

To the learning organization discussion list;
I apologize for cross-posting if anyone is also on the HRD-L list, but I
find this discussion intriguing, and I thought it hits pretty close to home
for the learning organization discussion group. If you find this
interesting the HRD-L list is on LISTSERV@mizzou1.missouri.edu

What do you folks think of this line of questioning? Do we serve our own
interests or the company's bottom line? Is there some higher purpose that
we seek to fulfill but we can't fully disclose to someone in management, or
the shareholders? If so, how noble is that goal? Or are we just in the
wrong company. (An old sage said, "If it ain't worth getting paid for, it
ain't worth doing.") Where is the proof or even evidence that it pays to
develop your employees.

I have my own ideas, but I really want to hear some others. Please join in
this discussion on this list or the other list, as you think appropriate.

Sean Gawne :)
------------------------------forwarded message----------------------------
Mitchell Langbert said:

Do the cited studies which show a positive contribution by HRD also
quantify 1) the value of the positive contribution, 2) the costs of the
HRD to support the change in performance, and 3) the costs of other
interventions or alternatives, such as hiring an outside consultant who
did not require "development"? I apologize for not having read them,
perhaps some of the champions of HRD would enlighten me, as I feel
compelled to take on the role of HRD-basher

Excuse me, but are there really any studies out there that do show a
positive contribution by HRD? If so, where?

Isn't the whole notion of Human Resource Development based on the view of
employees as some sort of renewable capital resource, whose value can be
increased by some training or education? Doesn't this also imply that we
are talking about the employee's value to the employer, and not their
value as a person? And isn't the value to an employer based exclusively on
that employees contributions to the company? Or at least potential
contributions related to expected future needs of the company? I
personally find this a bit nauseating, but really isn't that what HRD is
all about?

Yes, it seems obvious that HRD has to serve the corporate power
structure. It has to claim to be profit maximizing, if it isn't then
why would top management pay for it? The large companies I worked for
never cared about me. I would be rather surprised if they cared about
anyone's humanistic development. In fact, I am amazed that anyone who
serves corporate management really talks in those terms.
My question is whether a claim to humanistic development by
HRD is delusional? And is the claim that HRD actually does contribute
to profits realistic, or are HRD people merely playing into top
management's ego through rituals?

The ongoing list of buzz words in recent years--empowerment, tqm,
reengineering, etc., suggests that top management has been looking for
psychic balms in the face of international competition, the expansion
of markets and the like. HRD would seem to fill this need. There may
be more to it.

WE define the measures of success and failure, because we
are the professionals, the experts, and we know best. While that is
sometimes true, it is also possible to become unbalanced when one
focuses too much on a particular specialty.

Sean makes several brilliant points. The one that disturbs me the
most is the manipulation of the measurement of training outcomes in
the context of at risk youth training. Most of this kind of training
focuses on training underprivileged young people for $6 an hour jobs
that they end up quitting. The definition of success is job
placement. The programs are viewed as successful because they place a
lot of people who complete the program and are placed in $6 jobs--and
continue the cycle of defeat.

Mitchell Langbert
langberm@maillink.dowling.edu