A discourse approach to theorising HRD: opening up a discursive space

Aileen Lawless, Sally Sambrook, Thomas Garavan, Claire Valentin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to discuss how a discourse approach to theorising human resource development (HRD) can open a “discursive space” to challenge dominant discourses within the field; enabling a more critical discourse to emerge.
Design/methodology/approach – Discusses two approaches to discourse analysis, a “practice” and a “critical” approach, and illuminates how both approaches can ontribute to theorising HRD.
Findings – The notion of what constitutes HRD is being constantly renegotiated both in theory and in practice. While contemporary HRD discourses are many and there is fluidity in the field a dominant discourse can be identified. The authors argue that a focus on the discourses which construct and constitute HRD need to consider both the “practice” and “the order of discourse” enabling the emergence of alternative discourses within the field.
Research limitations/implications – Due to word restrictions an empirical example has not been included. However, future work will address this limitation.
Practical implications – The two approaches to discourse analysis discussed provide a useful framework; enabling an analysis of the dominant and competing discourses within the field of HRD.
Originality/value – Discourse analysis is rarely discussed in business settings despite the evidence that applied discourse analysis focuses on questions that are of relevance to the field. This paper contributes to a perceived gap and demonstrates how discourse analysis can contribute to researching alternative notions of HRD in order to encourage a variety of conceptual developments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-275
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of European Industrial Training
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • human resource development
  • human resource management


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