Critically challenging some assumptions in HRD

David O'Donnell*, David McGuire*, Christine Cross*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper sets out to critically challenge five interrelated assumptions prominent in the (human resource development) HRD literature. These relate to: the exploitation of labour in enhancing shareholder value; the view that employees are co-contributors to and co-recipients of HRD benefits; the distinction between HRD and human resource management; the relationship between HRD and unitarism; and the relationship between HRD and organizational and learning cultures. From a critical modernist perspective, it is argued that these can only be adequately addressed by taking a point of departure from the particular state of the capital–labour relation in time, place and space. HRD, of its nature, exists in a continuous state of dialectical tension between capital and labour – and there is much that critical scholarship has yet to do in informing practitioners about how they might manage and cope with such tension.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-16
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Training and Development
Issue number1
Early online date3 Mar 2006
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • labour
  • capital
  • human resource management


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