People, Technology, and Strategic Human Resource Development (SHRD)

People, Technology, and Strategic Human Resource Development (SHRD)

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0240-3.ch012


Technology and people are present in all organizations. The struggle of comparing people to technology and respectfully integrating people and technology in the workplace has been a debate since the industrial revolution occurred in America (Swanson, 1982; Swanson & Torraco, 1994). Effectively managing and developing people and technology is essential to enhancing competitive advantage for organizations. Strategic Human Resource Development (SHRD) is a relatively new and evolving field. This chapter explores the extent to which SHRD has the potential to tackle the challenges of integrating and enhancing the relationship between people and technology in the workplace.
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The challenge of organizations is to remain sustainable, relevant, and profitable. Organizations that remain in business have something that customers want or they tend to go out of business. The key to organizations’ continued success is the preservation and enhancement of their competitive advantage that allows them to keep customers who consistently patronize their business and to attract new customers to the business. “Man and machine are as essential to organizational prosperity as air and water is to living” (Hughes & Gosney, 2012, p.759); yet, there are few research articles published on the topic in the HRD literature (Githens, Dirani, Gitonga, and Teng, 2008).

When technology is discussed within most HRD publications, it is in the context of the use of computer technology to administer training, facilitate communication, and/or to track training results (Githens et al., 2008; Werner & DeSimone, 2012). Githens, et al.(2008) noted that the technology areas addressed in the five primary HRD publications (Advances in Developing Human Resources (ADHR), Human Resource Development International (HRDI), Human Resource Development Quarterly (HRDQ), Human Resource Development Review (HRDR), and Proceedings of Academy of Human Resource Development Conference (Proceedings)) between the years 2000-2006 were “educational technology (86), … virtual teams (18), and workers, knowledge management, and other, had less than ten articles each”(p. 203).

The core areas within the field of HRD are training and development, career development, and organization development (OD) (Mankin, 2001; Swanson & Holton, 2001).

All of these areas are vital to employee development within organizations. Employees want to be trained and developed so that they can build successful careers and work within viable organizations. The current global recession with its high number of unemployed workers has shined a light on the need for HRD. (Hughes & Gosney, 2012, p. 759)

Aguinis and Kraiger (2009) suggested that there is “[a]n important challenge for the practice of training… to integrate the training function with employee selection, performance, management, rewards, and other human resource practices (Aguinis, 2009; Aguinis & Pierce, 2008; Cascio & Aguinis, 2005)” (p. 467).

The core areas of HRD have been effective for developing people, but the evolving field of Strategic HRD (SHRD) provides an opportunity for growth of the field to better integrate people and technology development in the workplace.

SHRD is defined as “the process of facilitating organizational learning, performance, and change through organized interventions and initiatives and management actions for the purpose of enhancing an organization’s performance capacity, capability, competitive readiness, and renewal” (Gilley & Maycunich, 2000, p. 6) and is designed to integrate HRD initiatives with business strategy (Gilley & Maycunich, 2000; Kandula, 2001; Werner & DeSimone, 2012) through OD. HRD researchers have described OD as involving the principles, processes, and performance within organizations (McLagan, 1989; McLean & McLean, 2001; Egan, 2001; Egan, 2002; Cummings & Worley, 2005; McLean, 2006). McLean (2006) broadly describes OD as:

“… any process or activity, based on the behavioral sciences, that, either initially or over a long term, has the potential to develop in an organization setting enhanced knowledge, expertise, productivity, satisfaction, income, interpersonal relationships, and other desired outcomes, whether for interpersonal or group/team gain or for the benefit of an organization, community, region, or, ultimately, the whole of humanity.” (p. 9)

The individual and the organization must be developed simultaneously for SHRD to be successful.

Gilley and Maycunich, (2000) described the following elements as representative of the essence of SHRD:

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