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Innovation in HRD research: emerging directions

July 30, 2009

Hatcher & Guerdat (2008) seek to define “innovative research” as it pertains to HRD. The authors correctly posit that innovation is seed-bed of problem solving and without it one runs the risk of repeating the same actions over and over while expecting different results (interestingly this is also the definition of insanity, as the Hatcher & Guerdat, 2008, point out). To answer the criteria of innovative research Hatcher & Guerdat (2008) cite content and process as being necessary goals to ascribe to. Process relates to rigor and form of research in methodology and in published product. In order to achieve an innovative research process, Hatcher & Guerdat (2008) argue, one must perhaps delve a little deeper with regard to a new topic or viewpoint associated with an older topic as well as take perhaps an unconventional route to addressing research question(s).

In scanning the literature for recurrent themes in recent publications such as Advances in Developing Human Resources, Human Resource Development Quarterly and Human Resource Development International, it is not surprising that topics such as learning, individual and organization performance improvement, engagement & motivation, general learning theory and ROI are still appearing as contemporary issues practitioners and scholars are finding important as they continually develop their bodies of knowledge. However, there are new topics of interest which demand the attention of all practitioners and scholars who need and want to stay on the bleeding edge of the discipline from the theoretical and applied perspectives.

Surveying past issues of Advances in Developing Human Resources, published by AHRD, the thematic, quarterly issues of the publication addressed career development, crisis management and scenarios/strategic planning. In the past 12 months, Human Resource Development Quarterly published articles pertaining to the issues common to HRD as well as articles regarding success factors, minority & ethnic groups, retention, mentoring, decision making, leadership, technology, public sector/military, workplace stress and organizational transformation. Human Resource Development International covered similar themes/topics with an international application (e.g. case studies in China, India, Russia, etc.).

The authors also address the issues practitioners face in creatively and resourcefully solving problems they find themselves in as their boundaries of practice and discipline blur into other areas previously defined as belonging to someone else. Everything scholars research and write about revolves around the theoretical and bridges to the applied; sometimes the bridge is well constructed and sometimes it could use some reinforcement. Regardless, there is a great deal to be learned from such activities from the practitioner standpoint but often they are too busy “in the trenches” to take time to research or even discern trends. Hatcher & Guerdat (2008) stepped outside of the topical trends in HRD research to point to the need to look at things from a completely different perspective. Their call to action applies to practitioners as well as scholars and for that reason, their point is universal.

Hatcher, T., & Guerdat, K. (2008). Where is innovation in HRD research? Human Resource Development Quarterly, 19(1), 1-5.

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