chapter  6
19 Pages

Human resource development: rhetoric, reality and opportunities


Of all of the functions vital to ensure the responsiveness and agility of the contemporary construction firm, it is perhaps the human resource development (HRD) function which is the most crucial. The emergence of HRD as a strategic activity arguably reflects changes in the human resource management (HRM) new orthodoxy. The HRM literature has moved from being a largely reactive philosophy (impacted upon by policies) to become a more proactive function (see Bellini and Canonico 2008). This is a clear acknowledgement that the way in which people are managed affects employees’ commitment to improving the firm’s products and services (see Marchington and Wilkinson 2005). Seen in this way, HRM can have a strategic influence within many organizations and can be viewed as a route to sustained competitive advantage. Such an assertion is supported by analysis of firms’ financial performance which suggests that high performance work practices are positively linked to firm performance (Huselid 1995), although this is by no means uncontested (Purcell 1999).