An Empirical Study of the Training Evaluation Decision-Making Model to Measure Training Outcome

Article excerpt

Organizations in Taiwan are facing more rigorous competition than ever before because of the new era of globalization. As a result, human resource development (HRD) has received additional attention in both the public and private sectors. In the public sector, Taiwan's government has embedded the concept of HRD into the government transformation process. Several recent government policies have reflected the need for intensive HRD. Meanwhile, in private sector organizations, training has become a prevalent concern for decision makers. Common Wealth, a major industrial and business magazine, conducted a nationwide study of the top 1,000 companies in Taiwan regarding their business priorities. The top two priorities of these companies were: 1) training and development and, 2) research and development. A total of 47.8% of the top 1,000 organizations perceived training and development as being the highest priority they needed to address (Chen, Holton, & Bates, 2005). Undoubtedly, a training program is an attempt to improve work performance, rather than a prerequisite for job performance that has already been judged successful. Therefore, the more understanding that can be gained regarding how a training program works, the more support the top management will give. But how do we know the program works well? If we want to continue to improve and refine it, we have to be able to determine whether or not program participants are really getting what they want. In order to ensure that training is maximally effective and to determine what improvements could be made, measurements must be taken. A four-level model of evaluating training program effectiveness, based on an evaluation process originally proposed by Kirkpatrick in 1959 was adopted for use in this study. The model involves four levels of criteria for evaluation procedures: reaction, learning, behavior, and results. A successful training evaluation relies on the collecting and analyzing of data. Goldstein (1980) defined evaluation as the systematic collection of descriptive and judgmental information necessary to make effective training decisions related to the selection, adoption, value, and modification of various instructional activities (p. 237). However, the time and cost involved can be considerable, and even HR professionals are saying that training evaluations are simply the response rates from trained employee surveys. There are several reasons that companies do not undertake training evaluations; among them are the costs involved, the difficulty in establishing controls, measuring devices being unavailable, staff not being qualified, the statistical work being too cumbersome and complicated, the difficulties in determining the relationship between training and results, too many variables operating at the same time, and the evaluation results being too theoretical and not providing meaningful information.

Literature Review

According to the Sugrue and Rivera (2005) state of the industry report, training evaluations occurred at the following rates: level one (employee reaction) 91%; level two (employee knowledge) 54%; level three (transfer of training to the workplace) 23%; level four (impact on business) 8%; and level five (monetary impact of the training) 3%. The ASTD researchers found that sales training programs were the most likely to be evaluated at levels three and four while executive development programs were most likely to be evaluated at level five. The general consensus is that training evaluation is a critical and important phase of the program development process; however, this step is often neglected. Attia, Honeycutt, and Attia (2002) provide three reasons why this is so. First, training has been limited historically; training budgets have been reduced annually consistently since the 1970s. Second, the academic analysts have criticized evaluation efforts, asserting that they provide weak practical guidance. Third, trainer anxieties result in a desire to avoid performance appraisal unless the outcome is guaranteed to be positive. …