Human Resource Development and Training

In the early 1980s, the field of personnel management shifted its function from handling staffing and related administrative activities to the development of people as a resource of the organization (Sims, R. 2006). Thus, here comes the field of Human Resource Development (HRD). The term HRD started out first simply as “training”, then involved into “training and development”¼ˆT&D¼‰, and finally into HRD. Therefore, some confusion arise relating to the difference between Human Resource Development and “training and development”. In order to differentiate HRD and T&D, the author illustrates this essay by clarifying the definition of HRD and T&D, their respective main purpose, and the strategies of each term.

Definition of HRD

Because of the evolving nature of HRD, defining HRD is difficult. The first definition of HRD offered by Harbison and Myers related HRD to broad contexts, including economy, political, social and culture contexts, rather than just individuals and organizations. They defined HRD as a process to increase the knowledge, skills and capacities of all the people in a society:

“In economic terms, it could be described as the accumulation of human capital and its effective investment in the development of an economy. In political terms, HRD prepares people for adult participation in the political process, particularly as citizens in a democracy. From the social and cultural points of view, the development of human resources helps people lead fuller and richer lives, less bound to tradition.”(Harbison and Myers, 1964)

HRD was also referred as a learning experience provided by employees, leading to the improvement of their performance and/all personal growth (Nadler and Nadler, 1989).

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A recent definition from Swanson (2009) explained the term HRD as a process of developing and unleashing expertise which aimed at improving organizational system, work process, team, and individual performance.

Definition of T&D

Generally speaking, training and development is defined as a field concerned with organizational activity whose objective is to improve the performance of individuals and groups in organizational context.

To be specific, writers of some literatures have divided the term T&D into two independent parts: “training” and “development”. Separated definition for each word is created, which makes the definition of training and development quite straightforward.

Training was defined as a “planned and systematic process to modify or develop attitude, knowledge or skills through learning experiences, to achieve effective performance in an activity or range of activities.” (Garavan et al.,1995; Harrison, 1993; Reid et al. 1994) . A separate definition of development was that “the growth or realization of a person’s ability through conscious or unconscious learning, which usually includes elements of planned study and experience supported by coaching and counseling” (Wilson, 1999).

Similarities can be seen from these definitions that both HRD and T&D provide human resource with learning to improve performance. However, their emphasises are different according to the definitions. T&D focuses more on the improvement of individual performance, whereas HRD is a business approach which plays a crucial role in the improvement of whole organizational.

II. Main Purpose of HRD and T&D

Main purpose of HRD

The key functions of HRD are individual development, organizational development, career development and performance improvement. Actually, the main purpose of HRD is under debate of researchers and practitioners. Should it focus on increasing the performance requirements of its organizations and enhancing the productivity of the workforce or on developing the individual competency and skills? When practiced in productive organizations, HRD should contribute directly to the organization’s goal. As a result, performance improvement becomes the main purpose of HRD.

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There are many aspects that HRD could improve performance: individual, process, as well as organizational levels. For instance, performance is impeded when the goal of an organization do not fit various internal and external realities (culture, for example). HRD could solve this problem by formulating a goal that fit in the organizational culture while a culture change process being implemented in order to support the goal of the organization.

Main purpose of T&D

In many literatures, the purpose of T&D concentrates on individual development. There is need to train and retrain the employees on continuous basis. T&D has the goal of influencing basic values and beliefs of individual. Meanwhile, there are also technical and management T&D programmes related to systems and procedures appeal to the inherent logic, and the planning methods and people skills appeal to the strategies of succeed.

The relationship (or difference) of HRD and T&D (and other HRD functions) could be illustrated by figure1:

Figure1 (Haslinda, 2009)

Although the main purpose of T&D is individual development, which is one of the four key functions of HRD, we can not say that T&D is a subset of HRD. HRD and T&D are discrete entities. HRD is the integrated use of T&D, organizational development, career development and performance development to improve individual, group, and organizational effectiveness.

III. Strategies of HRD and T&D

Strategies of HRD

To contribute to the goals and missions of the organization, efforts of making HRD strategies must take place. First, there should be a clear overview of the relationship between the organization’s missions, strategic agenda, and competitive environment. Followed by an assessment of the current capacity of workforce, special needs are identified. An evaluation system needs to be built in order to examine if the target competencies indeed enhance the actualization of organizational goals. Finally, the organization needs senior leadership and a culture that support lifelong learning of the work role of each employee.

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2. Strategies of T&D

Training and development in an organization also requires a mechanism that establishes the competencies required by an organization to achieve success. Therefore, the strategy of T&D includes 1) identifying the employees’ training needs, 2) finding out the HR strategic plan, 3) establishing personal developing plans and 4) evaluating the T&D outcomes by assessment. The process could be revised over and over again.

The strategies of HRD and T&D have several points in common. However, those tiny distinctions make HRD a more strategically orientated organizational process.


In spite of the existence of some similarities, HRD and T&D are differentiated in their definitions, purposes, as well as in strategies. HRD has roles that extend far beyond training and development (Stead and Lee, 1996). It is an extension (or evolvement) of T&D and is associated with an organization’s overall business success and employee’s T&D process.

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