HRD standards and standardization: where now for human resource development?

Valerie Anderson

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This paper examines standard-setting and standardization processes currently being undertaken in the Human Resources field and makes a ‘call to action’ for HRD scholars and practitioners to influence these developments. The paper provides a reflexive ‘insider account’ of HR standards development combining personal experience with theoretical perspectives; ‘grey’ and practitioner literatures; and secondary data sources. Drawing on scholarly literature sources opportunities and dilemmas of standardization processes in the HR field are discussed. Grounded in the standardization literature alternative approaches to system-wide (meta) standards are identified. Drawing on publically available information different standardization approaches in USA and UK are discussed. The paper critiques the dominant performance-orientated paradigm and ‘rules based’ approach to standards and argues for an alternative, principles-based approach for HR standardization to support sustainable individual and organizational performance. These issues have important consequences for HRD identity, pedagogy, education and practice. In addition to the development of an original typology of emerging HR standardization the paper contributes a new perspective to debates about the identity, values, purpose and contribution of HRD and the relationship between HRD and HRM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-345
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Issue number4
Early online date2 May 2017
Publication statusEarly online - 2 May 2017


  • standards
  • standardization
  • meta-standards
  • human resource development
  • human resource management


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