Handbook of Human Resource Development
Since facing the room full of HRD researchers at Georgia State University in 1993 to negotiate the formation of the Academy of Human Resource Development, I don’t believe I’ve had as exhilarating an experience as watching this Handbook of HRD take form and blossom. We are discovering fresh and zealous voices as HRD advocates. Who would have believed that, in a few short years, we would be talking about both the profession and the discipline of HRD? We are on the verge of something big, something extraordinary, and something that is fulfilling a vision I and many others have had for the field.
Identifying the topics that represent both the profession and the discipline of HRD and selecting authors for those topics is a daunting task. But here we have a more than satisfactory result. We must applaud the sterling efforts of Neal Chalofsky, Tonette Rocco, and Lane Morris for tackling this project, and pay tribute to each of the dedicated authors for allocating the time and their personal talents to bringing the Handbook of HRD to fruition.
Most would agree that the majority of those who were part of the initial body forming the Academy were minimally educated in something newly called human resource development. As Neal has so aptly pointed out, Leonard Nadler coined the term only in the 1970s, and the first conference on the academic preparation of practitioners of training and development occurred in the late 1980s. We limped along the path to clearer identification during the 1990s and learned a lot about the body of knowledge that is being summarized in this handbook somewhat tangentially. For example, I remember standing before the great pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, and staring into the sunlight with Ron Jacobs after making some presentations at a conference there and learning about HRD; I remember urging Mike Marquardt to write a book on HRD, which he did brilliantly, teaching me about HRD; I recall interacting with Karen Watkins about the difference between performance and learning while visiting the University of Georgia and discovering more about HRD. Many readers of this handbook learned about developing people in the same indirect ways and enhanced their understanding of HRD in the process.
The Handbook of HRD is divided into eight sections, with no more than six chapters in each section, for a total of forty topics that encompass an amazing range of issues from foundations of the discipline of HRD to perspectives on HRD to developing expertise and spirituality to managing HRD, and to innovative applications in the field. Issues such as certification and accreditation are also addressed. Reading each of these topics carefully will reveal the nuances that exist in the profession and discipline of HRD.
Although other handbooks about HRD and many of the inherent topics are available, this handbook is written from the perspective of HRD scholars who are attempting to make sense of the varied dimensions of the field. Here, in a single source, is a treatment of various topics and issues about which academicians and some practitioners are ruminating on a daily basis. Every chapter opens a vista from which to view a nagging question from both a traditional perspective and a new and innovative perspective, so that both newcomers and veterans of HRD have an opportunity to learn more about the field’s many aspects.
In a sense, the chapters in this handbook have been wrung out of the scholarly livelihoods and the professional experiences of the authors, providing us with both routine and provocative insights. Some of the scholars represented in the handbook may seem less familiar to some readers, but the youthful pattern of authors shows the immense strides our field has taken in developing talented representatives of the discipline.
As our handbook authors will agree, it is critical to recognize that the credibility and effectiveness of our profession/discipline of HRD depend on how well the people in HRD departments implement policies and practices that develop both the talents of individuals employed by the organization and their resources as working members of the organization.
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