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The role of HRD within organizations in creating opportunities for life-long learning: concepts and practices in seven European countries


The objectives of the proposed study are to:

1. clarify the specific European outlook on the role which HRD in learning oriented organizations can fulfil in lifelong learning, and thus contribute to the discussion on a 'European model of lifelong learning'.
2a. provide a basis for further research on the changing role of HRD in work organizations;

2b. provide practical guideline for HRD practitioners throughout Europe on how to facilitate employee learning and thus assist their organizations in securing their competitiveness in a continuously changing environment.
The research questions are:

1. How do HRD departments in learning oriented organizations throughout Europe envision their own role in stimulating and supporting employees to learn continuously, as a part of everyday work (with the intent to contribute to organizational learning, and thus to enhance organizational competitiveness)?

2. What differences in outlook can be found between HRD departments in European organizations and the perspectives on the role of HRD which exists in the US and Japan?

3. What strategies do European HRD departments adopt to realize their envisioned role?

4a. What inhibiting factors do European HRD departments encounter when trying to realize their new role? How do they cope with these factors?
4b. Which factors are conducive to the realization of HRD's new role?
4c. How do these inhibiting and conducive factors influence the vision of the HRD department with regard to its own role?

To study these questions the following activities are proposed:
- qualitative case studies (4 cases per country: 28 cases in total): to gain an in-depth understanding of the concepts of the HRD-departments, the strategies they adopt to bring these into practice and the facilitative factors as well as the difficulties they encounter during this implementation process.

- review of US and Japanese literature on HRD in learning oriented organizations, in order to gain insight in the predominant view of HRD in these countries, this will aide in the definition of the specific European outlook on HRD's role in life-long learning.

- a survey of a larger group of organizations (20 per country; 140 in total): to ascertain to what degree the findings are representative for more organizations, throughout the seven EU-countries that participate in the study.

The study will yield both a research report which contains the result of the case study research, literature review and survey, as well as a practitioner's guide with helpful guidelines for HRD practitioners throughout Europe.

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