Desperately seeking alignment: reflections of senior line managers and HRD executives

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This paper offers a qualitative assessment of strategic human resource development (HRD) and alignment ‘in practice’ from the personal and organizational perspective of senior decision-makers in UK organizations. Semi-structured interviews with senior managers and HRD executives form the basis of the data, and allow an examination of the meanings and understandings attached to alignment and the extent to which they are affected by contextual factors such as organizational size and sector or the professional location of the interviewee. The paper indicates that experiences of HRD alignment are complex, ambiguous and contextually orientated. Alignment is depicted as an iterative process involving dialogue and bartering; involvement in different organizational and business planning processes, and the use of benchmarks and other organizational metrics. The data also suggest a range of tensions and challenges associated with the pursuit of alignment, and highlight approaches to organizing HRD that suggest passive rather than actively aligned practices. It concludes that the conceptual and practical difficulties of HRD alignment as it is presented in the strategic HRD literature and as it is described by those with experience of trying to achieve it may mean that it may be neither achievable nor even desirable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-277
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


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