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Identity as a Foundation for Human Resource Development (HRD)

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sandra Corlett


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The question of who is developed by HRD might appear self-evident. However, the answer becomes less certain when one seeks to understand how the individual changes through HRD activities and how these changes in turn shape what they do and how others respond to them. Such concerns are of central interest to the study of identity, a field that sees the question of who someone ‘is’, and indeed is not, as an important contributor to the personal and interpersonal dynamics of organizational life. Many of those engaged in identity scholarship would readily declare themselves to understand identity as a socially constructed phenomenon. Beyond this, however, contrasting research traditions adopt different positions on what constitutes an identity, where it emanates from, and how it might be known. Such variety means identity offers a potentially fruitful series of frameworks for exploring the nature, as well as the effect, of HRD on the individual and the workplace. Unlocking this potential, however, requires a firm understanding of the perspectives from which identity is described and the processes through which it is sustained and evolves. Many HRD texts allude to the centrality of identity for HRD but rarely to theories of identity. Yet HRD, as efforts to direct and (re)position identities and behaviour through training and other activities, is a field replete with ‘tensions and contradictions’ (McGuire and Garavan 2013:1) that we characterise through contrasting emphases upon the Human Resource Development, and Human Resource DevelopmenthumanH. Taking these in turn, the chapter teases out the identity issues embedded in these literatures, taking time to consider both individual and organizational level HRD processes. We then examine how three distinct identity perspectives: social identity ; identity work; and discourse and identity, might relate to these concerns before concluding the chapter with some questions that might inform the future trajectory of identity studies in Human Resource Development.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Corlett S, Coupland C, Hallier J, McInnes P, Summers J

Editor(s): Black, K, Warhurst, R, & Corlett, S

Series Editor(s): Monica Lee

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Identity as a Foundation for Human Resource Development

Year: 2018

Pages: 21-38

Print publication date: 07/09/2017

Online publication date: 25/08/2017

Acceptance date: 31/07/2017

Series Title: Routledge Studies in Human Resource Development

Publisher: Routledge

Place Published: New York


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781315671482