This website should be useful to anyone interested
in HRM but it is also an electronic companion to the book: Human Resource Management in a
Business Context. The book is used as a basic textbook for part-time and distance-learning
courses in a number of countries throughout the world. Page 363 of the 1st edition of book includes 8 review
questions focusing on the issues discussed in this section. The single chapter on Human Resource Development in the first
edition has been expanded into two new chapters (20 and 21) in the 3rd edition . The questions refered to here
have been divided between those two chapters, along with some new ones. The following hints and signposts are provided to help readers without
regular tutor contact answer the questions for themselves.
General notes One of the best ways of starting any answer is to define the key terms
in the question. This is helpful to you and to anyone who reads your answer. It is worth
remembering also that - legislative aspects excepted - HRM is very much a matter of opinion. It
is often useful to deal with questions by forming an argument which presents two or more
contrasting viewpoints. You could do this by investigating the views of different theorists,
comparing alternative models, or contrasting practice in one organization (or country) with
Try to avoid a one-sided answer, even if it draws on your own experience and you are totally
convinced that you are right. Finish off your answer by summarising the keypoints of each point
of view and give your balanced opinion. This should be based clearly on the weight of evidence.
Be sure to ground your answer in research evidence or views expressed in the literature (books,
Dealing with individual questions
1. This question is on page 582 of the 3rd edition . It would be useful to pick an organization in which you (or
a friend/relative) have or are working. This approach is more likely to give you a good insight.
Alternatively you could access a company website, obtain recruitment literature and company
reports. Or do a search on journal, magazine or newspapers sites for case studies. AHRI's HRMonthly
and the IPD's People Management often carry such information.
2. This question is on page 583 of the 3rd edition . You can regard this as a question based on history and reality
- or is it reality and rhetoric? A straightforward treatment would be that 'training' is a formal,
planned activity - something done to an employee - whereas development is a more active, multi-faceted
process in which the employee takes a leading role. But then, how much good formal training has
ever taken place? Countries like Australia and the UK have been heavily criticized at both government
and industrial level for poor levels of vocational training. Equally, how much of what is written
about HRD is theory or rhetoric rather than a description of actual development activity?
3. This question is on page 609 of the 3rd edition . Learning or Training needs analysis is a process described on pages 353-358.
The question is intended to allow you to gain an understanding of a fairly formal process which
(you might conclude) sits a little uneasily in the context of rapid change and flexibility. It
would be a good idea to focus on a specific retail company to answer the second part of the
may have personal experience (even as a customer) or have friends and relatives to give you some
insight into the organization.
4. This question is on page 609 of the 3rd edition . The key to answering this lies in the changes in organizational
structure and business processes in recent years. Look back over the pages on Organizational HRM. You might conclude that
where once organizations were multi-layered hierarchies, 'downsizing', 'delayering' and business
process re-engineering have tended to lead to flatter structures, fewer layers of management,
team-working, flexibility and outsourcing. In other words, old-fashioned career ladders have tended
to disappear. So, careers might involve sideways moves, changes of specialism, and so on, instead
of upwards progression.
5. A revised version of this question is on page 583 of the 3rd edition . In many ways
and formal (traditional) training
take diametrically different approaches to development. You may have noted that Revans devised
action learning as a reaction to the disappointing results he had seen from traditional training
methods. The key is that
is active and experiential - it forces people to engage
with their own development activities - whereas they can doze through a taught course and learn
nothing. You can expand your argument historically: backwards, by observing that
is an expanded and organised form of 'learning on the job' (but making extensive use of special
projects); forwards, by noting that modern HRD attempts to combine both methods within an integrated
6. A revised version of this question is on page 583 of the 3rd edition as question 4. Page 580 (page 353 in the 1st edition) gives you a short discussion on the case for special
consideration for the development of women managers. The chapter on managing diversity will also
provide you with several points to consider. Ground your discussion in the legislative, ethical and
business arguments for a 'special case'. You might find that legislation restricts this in some countries
- and encourages it in others. A further consideration is that many women want to be treated on an
equal (rather than special, either negative or positive) basis with men. Don't forget to consider
informal as well as formal development - for example, networking.
7. A revised version of this question is on page 591 of the 3rd edition as Activity 21.3. Margerison's checklist is also on page 591 (page 344 in the 1st edition.It would be helpful to
start by brainstorming (uncritically) as many keywords or options for each individual question.
Then think carefully, putting the pluses and minuses of each option, strength, name, etc you
generated - you might surprise yourself with the results!
8. This question is on page 609 of the 3rd edition . This should lead on naturally from Margerison's checklist.
The sequence of questions should get you thinking systematically about where you are and
where you want to be in your career. You may consider creatig a tree and branch diagram with a
series of 'if-then' decision points - for example, if you get the qualification you are
studying for, what opportunities will be open to you?