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The Role of the Line Manager as a Facilitator of HRD

The Role of the Line Manager as a Facilitator of HRD

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Aoife Moloney. Originally submitted for Business Studies at Dublin City University, with lecturer Ms. Ciara Nolan in the category of Business
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards (Ireland) Competition by Aoife Moloney. Originally submitted for Business Studies at Dublin City University, with lecturer Ms. Ciara Nolan in the category of Business

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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10/27/2013

 
The Role of the Line Manager as a Facilitator of HRD.Abstract
The purpose of this literature review is to assess the role of the line manager as a facilitator of HRD. Literature identifies a number of positive and negative aspects with regard to thedevolution of HRD activities to the line manager. In order to successfully achieve theeffective facilitation of HRD within an organisation, emphasises is placed on the necessity for the efficient training and development of the line manager and the clear definition of rolesand responsibilities. Additionally, it is clear that there is necessity for partnership, supportand effective communication between the line manager and the HR specialist.
Introduction
Much of the literature relating to Human Resource Management (HRM) and HumanResource Development (HRD) indicates that, in recent times, there has been a shift in the roleof the line manager (Evan et al 2006, Heraty and Morley 1995, MacNeil 2003, Ruona andGibson 2004, Sambrook and Stewart 1998). In many cases, line managers are becomingincreasingly responsible for the training and development of their subordinates (Ellinger andBostrom 1999, Heraty and Morley 1995, MacNeil 2003, Ruona and Gibson 2004).Devolution of HRD is the passing of HRD activities from HRD specialists to line managers(Heraty and Morley 1995, MacNeil 2003). Traditionally HRD was seen to be theresponsibility of the specialist function or Human Resource Department in an organisation(Heraty and Morley 1995). Since the 1980’s there has been an increasing trend towards thedevolvement of HR activities to line managers (MacNeil 2003 p 295, Ruona and Gibson2004, Sambrook and Stewart 1998, Watson 2007). This has caused much debate within theliterature with regards to whether or not the transition of responsibility to the line manager for the development of employees makes for a positive change (Beattie 2006, Cunningham andHyman 1999, Heraty and Morley 1995, Guest et al 2003, Purcell and Hutchinson 2007,Valerde 2006, Watson 2007). Much of the literature argues that their direct involvement andexperience in the area of their subordinates makes line managers a much more logical andinfluential facilitator of HRD (Beattie 2006, Ellinger and Bostrom 2002, Guest et al 2003,Mankin 2009, Purcell and Hutchinson 2007, Truss 2001). On the contrary, it is also arguedthat there are many negative aspects to the installation of such responsibility on linemanagers, many of whom do not want the additional task of being involved in HRD(Cunningham and Hyman 1999, Heraty and Morley 1995, MacNeil 2003, Watson 2007). It is
 
argued that the duty is being assigned to them despite their lack of ability to carry out the task efficiently (Cunningham and Hyman 1999, Heraty and Morley 1995).MacNeil (2003) defines line managers as those who occupy the lower and middle layers of management within an organisation. ‘Their power is derived not from a hierarchical positionof authority, but rather from having specific knowledge that enables them to influence bothstrategic and operational organisational priorities’ (MacNeil 2003 p294). While Heraty andMorley (1995 p32) describe line management as ‘the layer that exists above supervisory level but yet is not inclusive of senior positions within the hierarchy’. Harvey et al (2002 p583)suggests facilitators are ‘individuals with the appropriate roles, skills and knowledge to helpindividuals, teams and organisations apply evidence into practice’.In this essay the relevant literature will be reviewed in order to study the devolvement of HRD activities to line managers within an organisation. The various arguments uncovered inthe literature will be examined with regards to the positive and negative aspects of HRDdevolvement (Cunningham and Hyman 1999, Heraty and Morley 1995, MacNeil 2003,Valerde 2006, Watson 2007). Based on the analysis of the literature, the extent to which linemanagers should play the role of ‘facilitator of HRD’ will be discussed (Ellinger and Bostrom2002, Guest et al 2003, Heraty and Morley 1995, MacNeil 2003, Sambrook and Stewart1998) Finally, methods by which organisations can improve the facilitation of HRD so asthose involved in its implementation can contribute as effectively and efficiently as possiblewill be highlighted (Evan et al 2006, Hite and McDonald 2008, Ruona and Gibson 2004).
HRD and its link to HRM and OD
Literature shows that the task of defining HRD, and its link to Human Resource Management(HRM) and organisational development (OD), has itself, proven to be reason for debate(Garavan et al 1999, Garavan 1991, McGoldrick et al 2001, Stewart 1999, Watson 2007).Despite the ‘definitional chaos’ surrounding the precise meaning of HRD, examining variousexplanations offered by researchers and academics can aid us in our understanding of theconcept, and the importance of its role within an organisation (Garavan et al 1999 p282). Theaim of HRD is to enable organisations to respond to challenges, changes and opportunitieswithin the workplace. It is also necessary for the development of policies and proceduresfocused on training and development, creating a learning culture, and thus, increasingcompetitive advantage (Beattie 2006). Having an understanding of HRD is a vital elementwhen investigating who is responsible for its implementation within an organisation.
 
Additionally, due to the fact that much of the literature refers to the line managers’ role inHRM, it is equally as important to establish the relationship between HRD and HRM (Ruonaand Gibson2004, Sambrook and Stewart 1998, Watson 2007). Given that HRM involves thedevelopment of people, it is undisputed that it is linked to HRD (Sambrook and Stewart1998). HRM, HRD and OD each have their individual origins and began as separate entitieswith distinct qualities from one another. It is the evolution of these fields over the past four decades which has led to an increase in their convergence, contributing to their hazyaffiliation with one another, and thus, creating the confusion and ambiguity reflectedthroughout the literature today (Ruona and Gibson 2004, Watson 2007).Personnel management is linked to HRM as training and development is to HRD. WhileHRM and HRD represent the more strategic or active approach, addressing the broadorganisational issues, personnel management and training and development are seen as beinga more passive approach, aiming to deal with departmental and technical matters (Ruona andGibson, Sambrook and Stewart 1998, Watson 2007). The relationship between HRM andHRD may vary depending on the particular needs and strategic approach of an organisation.This in turn will affect the necessity of, and importance for, training and development withinan organisation (Sambrook and Stewart 1998, Watson 2007). The possible relationships between HRM and HRD, as identified by Sambrook and Stewart (1998), are depicted inFigure 1.Figure1. 
Sambrook and Stewart (1998).
The Shift in Responsibility for HRD within an Organisation.
Based on the literature, the extent to which line managers are responsible for the facilitationof HRD is far from unanimous. For example while Heraty and Morley (1995) acknowledgethat the line manager is an important contributor to the operational side of HRD, they

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