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Strategic learning and HRD

One of the aims of this book is to begin to outline a critical perspective on human resource development (HRD). HRD is used here as a general term that implies attempts at organizing learning and change. HRD is linked to other areas of scholarship including management and organizational learning, management education, organization development, intervention and consulting. These interconnected areas of theory and practice are brought together under the theme of strategic learning, which indicates that the emphasis of the book is more on the relationship between learning and organizing than it is on the development of individuals. The book highlights the role that HRD can play in the organization of learning and change. A central part of my argument is that there has been an over-emphasis on individuals' learning in organizations. In practice, this has meant that staff responsible for learning and change in organizations have put too much effort into the development of individuals (for example through individual performance appraisal linked to programmes of skill and knowledge development) and not enough into understanding and engaging with the organizational dynamics that limit and shape individuals' opportunities and abilities to learn and change. These dynamics are created as a result of the interaction between emotion and politics in organizations and they have an impact on both learning and organizing.

Consider the following example. Most people in organizations have at some point experienced the weight of 'expectations from above'. Where these are powerfully felt they can produce cautious and self-protective behaviour. Caution and self-protection stimulate a tendency to blame others for problems that arise. As blame becomes a habitual individual response it starts to have an impact on organizational processes, for example, how reflection is both undertaken and avoided. Reflection is undertaken in isolation from others (if at all) and becomes focused on 'looking back' at actions. Ambivalence about engaging in collective, public and strategic reflection reinforces difficulties of communication across organizational sub-systems. From a relatively simple emotional reaction (caution in the face of expectations) has emerged an organizational process or 'structure' that limits learning and change (see Chapter 4 for a fuller description of this process). Therefore, in addition to looking at, for example, the meaning of reflection or leadership in the minds of members of organizations, I explore

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Rethinking Strategic Learning
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • 1 - An Introduction 1
  • 2 - Strategic Learning and Hrd 13
  • 3 - Power, Emotion and Organizational Learning 38
  • 4 - Emotion and Strategic Learning 58
  • 5 - Being Taken Over 76
  • 6 - The Politics of Imagined Stability 91
  • 7 - Organizing Reflection 106
  • 8 - Redefining Leadership 127
  • 9 - The Point of Intervention 146
  • References 161
  • Index 170
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