There is often a futuristic focus, with prescribed contingent outcomes. Although there are often attempts to address both the practice and the conceptual aspects of HRD, the drive to express HRD in relation to models, frameworks and typologies could result in a distancing between rhetoric and reality, similar to that found in HRM debates. As Hatcher argues, 'Without a focus on the theoretical foundations of research and practice, HRD is destined to remain atheoretical in nature and poor practice will continue to undermine its credibility' (2000:45).
Historically, the development of HRD can be traced from training and instructional design, to training and development, to employee development, to human resource development. Traditionally, the field of HRD was defined by practice, not from a theoretical frame or set of research. Pat McLagan (1983) postulates the boundaries of HRD as individual development, organization development and career development. O'Brien and Thompson (1999) apply a similar framework in the Irish and European context. More recently, the emergence of HRD related journals have presented an opportunity to define the field on the basis of theory and practice. There is also a blurring of the boundaries in relation to the affiliation of researchers. Many early American researchers emanated from either an instructional design or an adult educational base. Recently Jacobs has reported that there are an increased number of manuscripts coming from business schools. This trend is a reversal of the European and UK situation. In the UK, HRD is very much the child of the explosion of HRM literature in the 1980s and 1990s. In the introduction to this volume we discuss the emergence of the HRD literature in the form of HRD texts, journals and academic symposia.
In addition, the scope of HRD research can be seen to be expanding, with recent focus on areas that were not traditionally considered to be within the domain of HRD. These include organizational leadership, organizational values, workforce development issues at the societal level and labour economics. Multidisciplinary foundations and an expanding scope both have the effect of expanding the discursive resources and therefore language available to and used by HRD academics and practitioners.
While acknowledging that HRD is a distinct field of scholarly research and practice in relation to HRM, it has to be acknowledged that the contextual factors in mainland Europe are an important influence upon HRD outcomes. If anything, the UK context is somewhat closer to the US experience, and it is a mistake to assume that the rest of Europe is mirrored in UK practice. So, for example, the historical role and development of HR professionals varies considerably across Europe, as do their career paths (Tyson and Wikander 1994). So, for example, in the UK a strong professional body representing both HRM and HRD practitioners regulates initial training. Elsewhere in Europe this does not happen, and HR professionals can undergo very different training. So, in Germany the extensive legal responsibility of HRM professionals for collective employee relations necessitates a strong legal training, while their counterparts in HRD are more likely to