UK managers' conceptions of employee training and development

A. McDowall, M.N.K. Saunders

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)


    – The first purpose of this paper is to review the practical and theoretical distinctions between training and development in the organisational psychology and human resource development (HRD) literatures. Then the paper seeks to investigate how managers responsible for the training and development function conceptualise these activities in practice, the factors that guide their decision making, how they evaluate the outcomes and the extent to which they perceive a relationship between training and development.

    – Taking a critical realist perspective, 26 interviews were conducted with UK managers and analysed through thematic coding using template analysis.

    – Managers' conceptualisations of training and development vary. Formal training is prioritised due to a perceived more tangible demonstrable return on investment. Perceived success in training focuses on improvements to job‐related skills, whereas success outcomes for development are more varied and difficult to measure. Managers consider that training and development are more valuable when combined.

    Research limitations/implications
    – There is a need for further process‐driven research to understand the interrelationship between training and development and to develop methods that can be used by organisations to evaluate both. This necessitates going beyond methods currently in use and including both qualitative and quantitative measures.

    Practical implications
    – Managers may take a more proactive and directive role in facilitating development than the literature suggests; consequently, their role needs to be considered more actively in HRD learning strategies.

    – This is one of the first qualitative studies to explore the conceptualisations of managers responsible for training and development, highlighting the inter‐relationship between training and development and the factors guiding decisions regarding these activities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)609-630
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of European Industrial Training
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Bibliographical note

    cited By 4


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