HRD system in India: conceptual framework, measure development & model fit.

AuthorJain, Ravindra
PositionHuman resource development


With reference to Indian organizations, two HRD conceptualizations have been highlighted-one by Rao (1986) and the other by Kandula (2001). Rao (1986) presented illustrative lists of HRD mechanisms, process variables, process outcomes and organizational effectiveness dimensions in a schematic presentation. Kandula (2001) developed a conceptualization of strategic HRD system which consists of two broad components, i.e., strategic HRD practices and strategic HRD facilitators. We combined both the frameworks and further enlarged the same by adding the influence of management styles on HRD practices. Further, we tested the validity and reliability of the four scales adapted for the purpose and finally we tested the model fit by applying Structural Equation Modeling.

Earlier research indicates that HRD system, processes and practices intended to incremental development of employees' competencies/commitment and change in organizational climate are positively related to various parameters of organizational performance such as employee turnover (Singh, 2000; Batt, 2002), increased productivity (Guzzo, Jettie & Katzell, 1985; Ichniowski, 1990; MacDuffie, 1995), payoff in terms of bottom-line financial performance (Radford & Kove, 1991; Flynn, 1994; Huselid, 1995), greater commitment (Agrawal, 2003; Gong, Law, Chang & Xin, 2009), higher safety performance (Zacharatos, Barling & Iverson, 2005), better service performance (Chuang & Liao, 2010) etc. Thus, in extant research, HRD system has been found positively associated with different outcomes that range from very proximal (i.e. productivity enhancement) to more distal (i.e. profitability). However, the mechanisms linking HRD and HR outcomes appear fragmented in earlier research. For such a linkage, various perspectives that have been frequently adopted by previous researchers mainly include behavioral perspective, human capital and resource based perspective, and holistic perspective. For example, Yeung & Berman (1997) have identified three paths through which HRD practices contribute to business performance: by building organizational capabilities, by improving employee satisfaction, and by shaping customer and shareholder satisfaction. Kandula (2001) made a survey of fifty-nine Indian organizations representing twenty different industries to study HRD practices and found moderate status with almost equal status to all the study variables (HRD mechanisms) in the studied organizations. In his study, all the study variables (HRD mechanisms) were found to have significant and positive correlation with each other. Jiang, Hu & Baer (2012) found that three dimensions of HR systems (i.e., skill-enhancing, motivation enhancing, and opportunity-enhancing HR practices) were positively related to human capital and employee motivation in different patterns in such a way that, compared with the other two HR dimensions, skill-enhancing HR practices were more positively related to human capital and less positively related to employee motivation. In addition, human capital and employee motivation mediated the relationships between three HR dimensions and voluntary turnover and operational outcomes, which in turn related to financial outcomes. In extant research, mainly additive approach has been adopted in order to measure the impact of HR mechanisms on HR outcomes; however, in recent studies (e.g., Gong, Law, Chang & Xin, 2009; Subramony, 2009; Batt & Colvin, 2011), it is argued that different sets of HR practices or different components of HR system may have differential effects on the HR outcomes.

Conceptual Framework

We developed a conceptual framework of HRD system which is visualized in Fig. 1. A brief description of the key elements of such a framework is being presented here: (1) Functioning of HRD department, employee training, performance appraisal, job enrichment, career planning, employee communication, and employees empowerment are the key sub-systems / HRD mechanisms.(2) Concerns and active support of various stakeholders (viz., top management, line managers & supervisors, individual employees, and employee unions) facilitate the effectiveness of such sub-systems / mechanisms in practice. (3) Participative, altruistic, professional, and organic management styles further facilitate the effectiveness of such sub-systems / mechanisms in practice. (4) Effective functioning of such HRD sub-systems / mechanisms has significant positive impacts on productivity and adaptability of human resources. Obviously, productivity and adaptability of human resources are the important indicators of organizational performance.

Key Variables Studied

HR Effectiveness: The key indicators of organizational performance include increments in productivity, adaptability, and commitment of organization's human resources. If human resources contribute to transferring inputs into outputs at the lowest cost and thus contribute to the achievement of organizational goals, the human resources will be termed as productive. In order to deal with new or changed situation and in this sense adaptability of human resources is the employees' ability and self-efficacy by which they can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situation and to contribute to introduce necessary changes in internal organizational climate in fine tune with the changes in external environment.

The most important objective of the HRD function is to create a 'learning environment' and 'enabling culture' in the organization HRD Department's Functioning: It is expected from the HRD managers of a separate HRD department that they should work for the cause of HRD in close collaboration with other functionaries in the organization. The most important objective of the HRD function is to create a 'learning environment' and 'enabling culture' in the organization so that each member of the organization continuously learns and acquires new competencies and sharpen the existing competencies.

Employee Training: All organizations are expected to recognize that employee training is a strategic priority rather than a tactical response. For all benefits to be gained, it must be introduced as one of the integrated sub-systems of HRD. There is an increasing recognition that training is a critical system not only for individual effectiveness but also for enhancing organizational effectiveness leading to a more holistic approach to training in practice.

Performance Appraisal: Designing/ re-designing performance appraisal system and its effective implementation need to be considered as a top priority of the management and such processes should be handled with utmost sincerity. Efforts should be made to make the employees feel that the performance appraisal system is not only fair but also that it is being administered in an equitable manner.

Career Planning & Development: Career planning is the process by which one selects career goals and the paths to these goals; the major focus of career planning is on assisting the employees achieve a better match between personal goals and the opportunities that are realistically available in the organization; upward mobility may not be a reality for a large number of employees and hence career planning efforts need to pin point and highlight those areas that offer psychological success instead of vertical growth (Rao, 2000).

Job Enrichment involves three basic elements: elimination of de-motivating tasks from the job, horizontal stretching and vertical loading. Job enrichment involves adding more motivators to a job to make it more rewarding. Job becomes enriched when its nature gives job-holders more powers for planning, execution, control, evaluation and decision making regarding his / her work in an organizational setting

Employee Communication is at the heart of all organizational operations as it is the basis for understanding, co-operation and action. The very vitality and creativity of an organization depends upon the content and character of its communications. Effectiveness of employee communication in an organization can no longer be ensured by hunch, it requires due attention of HRD department and its managers in particular and all other functionaries of an organization in general.

Employee Empowerment is a psychological concept in which people experience four kinds of feelings: (i) feeling of self-determination which consists of freedom, independence and discretion over their work; (ii) feeling of meaningfulness for their work; (iii) feeling of self-efficacy which means their potential effectiveness on their jobs; and (iv) feeling of being active participants in their organizations (Spreitzer, 1995). Job characteristics such as high degree of autonomy, minimum bureaucratic control, high level of task identity, high degree of task significance; effective implementation of job enrichment programs; individual competencies; and organizational factors such as availability of relevant resources to the employees, learning orientation culture, trustworthy & risk taking leaders etc. generally inculcate the feeling of empowerment among employees.

Facilitation by Top Management: The top and...

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