Understanding Human Resource Development: A Research-Based Approach

By Jim McGoldrick; Jim Stewart et al. | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Aims and purpose

As the title of the book indicates, the overarching purpose of the book is to advance knowledge and understanding of human resource development (HRD). In particular it is our aim to do so by drawing upon the emerging body of research in HRD, primarily UK-based, which will provide the underpinning for the conceptual, theoretical and practical advance of HRD.

This book is neither a 'how to' manual of conducting research, nor is it not a 'how to' manual. This rather ambiguous, not to say contradictory, description is the first guiding principle that informed the conception and construction of this book. Our aim has been to produce a work which is of practical value to those who are inexperienced in the conduct of research. The major means of achieving that aim is to include only chapters that are derived from recent or ongoing research projects, and to have contributors both describe and justify their decisions related to research design and choice of methods. In that sense, we have produced a 'how to' manual since there is much content which will be new knowledge for the inexperienced researcher.

We have though pursued a second aim. Conducting research is a complex process. It requires hard thought to engage with sometimes quite difficult ontological and epistemological issues that inform the conceptual clarity needed to produce coherent designs. Applying those designs rarely, if ever, works out as planned or expected and decision making is consequently a continuous and iterative process. Our second aim therefore has been to 'problematize' the research process in two senses. First, to simply acknowledge and describe the practical problems that research projects encounter in implementation of 'elegant' designs. Second, and more importantly, to directly address the often unstated assumptions and philosophical positions which inform the design and conduct of research. So, in the sense of 'problematizing' the research process, we go beyond a simple 'how to' manual and provide content of interest and value to experienced as well as inexperienced researchers.

-xiii-

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