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Exploring paradigms of Human Resource Development

Dissertation
Author: Andrew Christopher Hurt
Abstract:
This study focused on the issue of paradigms in Human Resource Development (HRD). Its purpose was to validate the HRD Cube as a synthesized model of HRD and to explicate some of the extant paradigms of HRD. The study was carried out by examining the text of articles published in Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD)-sponsored journals. Purposeful, stratified, and random sampling was used to select 16 articles published in AHRD-sponsored journals. Articles were treated as if they were the representative voice(s) of their author(s). Data units from within each article were identified and coded using two sequential techniques. First, units were axially coded and sorted into one of seven pre-determined categories based on the axioms of theory, research, and practice. Second, units were open coded using the constant comparative method, and themes and sub-themes were developed. Axial coding results identified a heavy emphasis on practice . The accumulation of units representing research and theory were comparatively smaller. Evidence of shared perspectives was found that emphasized the practice axiom. The accumulation of units emphasized research-practice , followed by theory-practice , and concluded with theory-research . Data units were also found that described all three axioms concurrently, theory-research-practice . Open coding results identified representative themes and sub-themes within each of the axiom-based categories of theory, research, and practice. Six themes developed in the theory category, 9 themes and 1 sub-theme developed in the research category, and 6 themes and 10 sub-themes developed in the practice category. The results provide evidence to support the overall construction of the HRD Cube. Theory, research, and practice perspectives of HRD were represented within the 16 articles used. The results also support the components described on each side of the HRD Cube. On the theory side, people, processes, and outcomes, and informing disciplines of HRD, were identified. Post-positive, interpretive, and critical epistemologies were identified on the research side. Individual, group, organizational, national, and global levels were identified on the practice side. Given the initial validation and support of the HRD Cube and of the components described within theory, research, and practice sides, within these 16 articles published in AHRD-sponsored journals, at least 18 prospective paradigms of HRD were identified.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page

ABSTRACT .......................................................................................................... iii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................. v

TABLE OF CONTENTS ...................................................................................... vii

LIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................ ix

LIST OF FIGURES ............................................................................................... x

CHAPTER

I INTRODUCTION ............................................................................. 1

Human Resource Development ..................................................... 2 What is HRD? ............................................................................... 2 Paradigms ...................................................................................... 15 Statement of the Problem .............................................................. 19 Purpose of the Study ..................................................................... 20 Research Questions ....................................................................... 21 Delimitations and Limitations ....................................................... 22 Informing Theoretical Framework ................................................ 25 A Perspective from the Author ...................................................... 26 Chapter Summary of Introduction ................................................. 29

II REVIEW OF LITERATURE ............................................................ 31

Philosophy ..................................................................................... 31 A History of Paradigms ................................................................. 36 HRD Cube ..................................................................................... 60 Chapter Summary of Review of Literature ................................... 72

III METHODOLOGY AND METHODS .............................................. 74

The HRD Cube .............................................................................. 76 Data Selection ............................................................................... 78 Data Collection .............................................................................. 85 Data Analysis ................................................................................ 87 Trustworthiness and Authenticity of the Study ............................. 94 Chapter Summary of Methodology and Methods ......................... 101

viii

CHAPTER Page

IV RESULTS: ARTICLE DEMOGRAPHICS AND AXIAL CODING ............................................................................................ 103

Article Description Demographics ................................................ 103 Presentation of the Results from the Axial Round of Coding ....... 107 Chapter Summary of Article Demographics and Axial Coding Results ........................................................................................... 111

V RESULTS: OPEN CODING ............................................................. 112

Themes within the Theory Category ............................................. 113 Themes Expressed within the Research Category ........................ 128 Themes Expressed within the Practice Category .......................... 142 Confirming Axiom-Based Category Theme Construction: Shared Side Categories .................................................................. 158 Chapter Summary of Open Coding Results .................................. 164

VI SUMMARY, DISCUSSION, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS ................................................................... 167

Summary ....................................................................................... 167 Discussion ..................................................................................... 173 Conclusions ................................................................................... 192 Recommendations for Future Research ........................................ 197 Chapter Summary of Discussion, Conclusions, and Recommendations ......................................................................... 200

REFERENCES ...................................................................................................... 202

APPENDIX A ....................................................................................................... 221

VITA ..................................................................................................................... 223

ix

LIST OF TABLES

TABLE Page

1 Selected Dictionary Definitions of Paradigm ........................................ 18

2 Selected Definitions of Paradigms and Corresponding Interpretations at the Philosophical Level ..................................................................... 57

3 AHRD-Sponsored Journals Included within a Database ...................... 79

4 16 Randomly Selected Articles Published in AHRD-Sponsored Journals Used for Data Analysis ........................................................... 84

5 Summary of the 16 Article Demographics ............................................ 104

6 Areas of Study Labeled as Informing Disciplines within 16 Articles Published in AHRD-Sponsored Journals ........................... 115

7 Ideas Labeled by Authors as a Theory in the 16 Articles Published in AHRD-Sponsored Journals ............................................................... 119

8 Summary of Themes and Sub-Themes that were Identified from the Open Coding of Units ........................................................................... 165

x

LIST OF FIGURES

FIGURE Page

1 Continuum of HRD Definitions .......................................................... 8

2 The HRD Cube: A Synthesis Framework for Selecting and Integrating Foundational Theory, Research, and Practice in HRD .................................................................................................... 13

3 Another Look at the HRD Cube: A Synthesis Framework for Selecting and Integrating Foundational Theory, Research, and Practice in HRD .................................................................................. 77

4 Proportional Venn Diagram of Categories Based on Theory, Research, and Practice Axioms ........................................................... 108

1

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION This dissertation focuses on Human Resource Development (HRD) and paradigms of HRD. This introductory chapter begins with a brief discussion of what HRD is perceived to be and its public/global presence. Then, a brief discussion of paradigms is presented, followed by the statement of the problem, purpose, and research questions. Presented next are the study’s delimitations and limitations. A discussion of the study’s informing theoretical frame follows. Finally, a series of perspectives about the author that will guide and influence this study and its components is presented. At the onset of this dissertation, it is important to note that paradigms pervade everything that researchers encounter and aid in directing our own thinking. Because paradigms aid in directing everything we do, it is not possible to be truly paradigm free. Regardless of how open to new ideas or perspectives individuals may try to be, they are, nonetheless, bound within a paradigm. In fact, being open to new ideas and perspectives is a paradigm in itself. Thus, it is important to highlight the fact that all of what is presented or conducted within this dissertation is bound within at least one paradigm; gaining awareness of those paradigms as they relate to Human Resource Development is what this dissertation is trying to accomplish.

_______________ This dissertation follows the style of Human Resource Development Quarterly.

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Human Resource Development Human Resource Development (HRD) is an area of theory, research, and practice that is devoted intimately to studying people. In terms of its formal academic study, HRD is comprised of a community of scholars and practitioners from across the world. Formal educational programs of HRD can be found in countries throughout many parts of the world. The Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD) is the predominant global professional organization with individual memberships that focus on research. It holds four conferences a year: the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East/North Africa (MENA). The University Forum for Human Resource Development (UFHRD) is the dominant institutional professional organization for the study of HRD. Combined, these two professional organizations, along with country-specific organizations (e.g., India, Korea, Pakistan) help to define much of the HRD work being conducted across the globe. They facilitate the dissemination of HRD research by hosting these four international conferences per year and sponsoring the publication of four HRD-focused journals: Human Resource Development Quarterly (HRDQ), Human Resource Development International (HRDI), Advances in Developing Human Resources (ADHR), and Human Resource Development Review (HRDR). What is HRD? Although a myriad of research and scholarly thought has been focused around the question of What is HRD? there is no single agreement as to the answer to this question. Many scholars and practitioners have endeavored to provide a formal

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definition, while others have proposed that HRD is in a state of development and thus choose not to bind HRD by any formal definition. However, one point that nearly every scholar and practitioner can agree upon is that HRD is focused, in some way, on people. The debate is often on the contexts, outcomes, or values of this focus on people. How Have Others Defined HRD? Many scholars have presented formal definitions of HRD; Weinberger (1998) and Swanson and Holton (2001) provided a summary table and discussion of many of these definitions. However, three perspective definitions seem to articulate the myriad of differences among various authors’ interpretations of HRD. The first and most bounded of the three definitions presented here is by Swanson (1995): “Human resource development is a process of developing and/or unleashing human expertise through organization development and personnel training and development for the purpose of improving performance” (p. 20). In this definition, several elements of what make it a bounded definition can be seen. For Swanson, HRD is a process. As a process, the activities that encapsulate HRD are defined and require a defined set of procedures. The purpose of HRD is solely to improve performance. For Swanson, the outcome of HRD is one that is centered on performance. Within this definition, HRD can also be seen as having two distinct foci: organization development (OD) and personnel training and development (T&D). Thus, HRD can, through defined processes, accomplish its goal of improved performance through the use of OD and T&D. For Swanson, the essence of HRD is a perspective that is bound by a specific set of outcomes, foci, and procedures.

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A contrast to Swanson’s definition is McLean and McLean’s (2001):

Human resource development is any process or activity that, either initially or over the long term, has the potential to develop adults’ work-based knowledge, expertise, productivity and satisfaction, whether for personal or group/team gain, or for the benefit of an organization, community, nation or, ultimately, the whole of humanity. (p. 322) In their definition of HRD, a much broader, less tightly bounded, perspective is articulated. For McLean and McLean, as with Swanson, HRD is a process. However, they add that HRD is a process or activity. These additional words aid the definition in implying that HRD could be more than just a set of defined and required procedures, as Swanson (1995) implied in his definition. Where Swanson felt the need to define various aspects of HRD (like a performance outcome and T&D and OD foci), McLean and McLean have endeavored to present a more inclusive definition. They arrived at their definition from the study of various international definitions of HRD and, as such, wanted to present a definition that ensured the ability to be internationally used. One of the overarching points that McLean and McLean articulated with their definition is that HRD can be as big or as small, or as focused or as unfocused, as the user of HRD may choose. This point can be seen in several elements of their definition through the use of words that imply a broader context and potential outcomes. For McLean and McLean, the essence of HRD is one of a broad perspective that could be bound by the perspective of the individual user. In this way, the McLean and McLean definition is more inclusive

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of the variety of perspectives that are present within HRD, as compared to Swanson’s definition. Finally, there is Lee’s (2001) refusal to define HRD. Although not a definition of HRD in the traditional sense, it is a perspective that represents the diverse nature of definitions of HRD. Lee defended her refusal to define HRD with four points. First, she suggested that there is a philosophical rationale for refusing to define HRD. In any definition, the author must define his or her perspectives philosophically. Her argument was that, because HRD is an area of theory, research, and practice that defines itself around no one philosophical perspective, any presented definition (even a working definition) will undoubtedly be biased toward the philosophical orientation of the author. Second, Lee refused to define HRD from a theoretical perspective and used the argument of being versus becoming to this end. Lee viewed HRD as continually developing, changing, and adapting. She suggested that HRD is in a perpetual state of becoming or a state in which it is changing. When an author presents a definition, there is a sense of being in that definition. Being refers to those elements of the definition that are known for fact. Lee argued that it would not be possible to present a becoming argument within any definition of HRD because definitions, by their own nature, present what is known or, in other words, a state of being. Third, Lee refused to define HRD using a professional argument. She identified that many individuals have something to gain from presenting a definition of HRD. Gains like professional status, recognition among other scholars, or even a need to support their own research are all reasons for which Lee purported that authors might be interested in defining HRD. Thus, because

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there is the inherent potential for personal/professional gain, a definition may be biased toward this end. Finally, Lee refused to define HRD using a practical reason. She suggested that a good definition must serve all those who use it; however, because HRD is so diverse, it is impractical to create a definition that can encompass all of HRD. Her argument is, in essence, that there is limited value in defining something when that definition can serve only a small subset of the entire population. It is interesting to note that, by providing the criteria for why HRD should not have a definition, Lee (2001) has effectively provided the HRD community with what should be in a definition. By looking at the inverse of her propositions for why HRD should not be defined, all other components not listed in her refusal should be contained within a definition. Lee’s view of HRD is perhaps one of the most inclusive of various perspectives of any HRD researcher, theorist, or practitioner. Although only three definitions of HRD have been presented here, they represent much of the diversity of perspectives on defining HRD. Many definitions focus, as Swanson’s (1995) does, around specific arguments as to what HRD is and what it is not. Others take an approach more like that of McLean and McLean (2001), where some aspects of their definition are specific; but, as a whole, their definition is left broad in order to accommodate diverse perspectives and remain as inclusive as possible. And still other definitions exemplify some of the four points that Lee (2001) made in criticism. They focus on a particular philosophical approach, or use a being point of view instead of a becoming perspective, or present a definition for personal/professional gain, or are impractical because they support only a particular group.

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These three perspectives on defining HRD could be seen as lying on a continuum (see Figure 1), with one side representing definitions that define and articulate the specific nature of HRD and the other side presenting HRD as indefinable. As the author of this work, I could define HRD using a myriad of points; however, regardless of how I choose to define HRD, I would still bind this research and subsequent readers within my perspective. Regardless of how I define HRD, or if I define it at all, I would locate this research somewhere on that continuum. Given that this research is focused on the idea of paradigms and that paradigms pervade everything we encounter, I should ensure that my definition of HRD is as inclusive as possible. Inclusivity is important in a definition in order to account for the myriad of possible perspectives of HRD. Thus, I will not present any formal definition of HRD other than to state simply that HRD is an area of theory, research, and practice that intimately deals with people. By not providing a formal definition of HRD, I am acknowledging that there is a myriad of potential definitions of HRD; and, in so doing, I am by default accepting Lee’s (2001) definition of (or refusal to define) HRD as this perspective is the most inclusive of all the presented definitions.

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Figure 1. Continuum of HRD Definitions

The Historical Foci of HRD Throughout the history of HRD, there have been several foundational debates and models that have helped to move HRD into its current state. As described above, the conversation and debates centered on how HRD should be defined have made significant contributions to this conversation. Other debates have centered on what the outcomes and models of HRD are. Learning versus Performance An often debated topic in some of the early published HRD history (pre-2000) was the outcome(s) of HRD. The debate often focused on questions centered on learning (Barrie & Pace, 1998; Watkins & Marsick, 1995) or performance (Swanson, 1995) in individuals or within organizations. Although proponents of each side still exist, both sides generally agree that learning and performance are not mutually exclusive; each has its own place within an individual’s and organization’s development (Swanson & Holton, 2001). In many ways, this debate between learning and performance is the same as that behind the debate regarding the definitions of HRD. Learning is seen as

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something that has future value, whereas performance is seen as something whose value can be immediately gauged. As with the definitions of HRD debate, there is a similar sense in the learning vs. performance debate; should the world of HRD be defined for immediate use or presented in a manner that allows for its future understanding? Models of HRD Several models exist that depict the nature of HRD. In many cases, these models continue the debate regarding how HRD should be defined. However, there are three key models that are particularly frequently referenced within the HRD literature and one emerging model that depicts the historical and emerging nature of HRD. In some cases (as with the HR Wheel—see discussion below), components of these models have been so completely absorbed by scholars and practitioners of HRD that elements of them are nearly assumed to be fact. HR Wheel The HR Wheel originated from a competency study conducted by the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) in 1981 (McLagan & Bedrick, 1983). In an effort to define more clearly the field of training, ASTD initiated a multi-phase study that was charged with attempting to identify, define, and describe the competencies and nature of training in the early 1980s. A product of that study was nine functional areas that described the nature of the field of training. Oriented in a circular fashion, these nine areas created the HR Wheel (training and development, organization development, organization/job design, human resource planning, selection and staffing, personnel

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research and information systems, compensation/benefits, employee assistance, and union/labor relations). Following the initial development of the HR Wheel, McLagan (1989; McLagan & Suhadolnik, 1989) later proposed a model for HRD practice. McLagan proposed changes for the 1990s and beyond. She proposed a slightly redesigned model of the HR Wheel (see illustration in McLagan,1989, p. 53). In this new form, the HR Wheel took on two additional functional areas and was further divided into areas exclusive to Human Resource Management (HRM), HRD, and shared by both. The areas exclusive to HRM are HR research and information systems, union/labor relations, employee assistance, and compensation/benefits. The areas exclusive to HRD are training and development, organization development, and career development. Finally, shared by HRM and HRD are organization/job design, human resource planning, performance management systems, and selection and staffing. These final four areas are shared because they relate closely to both HRM and HRD. The relevance of the HR Wheel to HRD is paramount. Since McLagan’s (1989) proposition of a model of HRD practice, the HR Wheel has been used as a way of bounding HRD within three exclusive functional areas. HRD is clearly focused on development. This focus is evidenced by the last word in the title. Similarly, the HR Wheel has three functional areas that have the word development imbedded in their titles: training and development (T&D), organization development (OD), and career development (CD). Thus, since the 1980s, many HRD academics and practitioners have overtly associated T&D, OD, and CD with HRD. The relevance of the HR Wheel is that,

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for many, it bounds study within HRD. By bounding the focus of HRD to these three areas, HRD research, training, and practice have a more explicit set of delimitations from within which to operate. HRD Theory Stool The HRD theory stool is Swanson’s (1999; Swanson & Holton, 2001) interpretation of the major underlying theories of HRD and how they interact with each other to inform HRD as an area of research and practice (see illustration in Swanson, 1999, p. 12). The HRD theory stool has three legs: (a) psychology, (b) systems, and (c) economics. These three legs are what Swanson called the theoretical domains of HRD. They represent the three areas that most inform and define study within HRD (see Torraco, 1999). The three legs of the stool are connected to the seat, which has inscribed on the top the three domains of performance: (a) individual, (b) process, and (c) organization. The domains of performance are what HRD theory (seat of the stool), utilizing the three theoretical foundations, strive to inform. The stool is situated on top of an ethical rug. Swanson described this rug as a filter by which all HRD theories (theoretical foundations) are separated from context (domains of performance). HRD as an Octopus or a Centipede In a response to Swanson’s three-legged stool model of HRD, McLean (1998) proposed the analogy that HRD is more akin to that of an octopus or perhaps even a centipede than it is to a three-legged stool. McLean suggested that HRD has as its foundation more than the three fields that Swanson presented (psychology, systems, and economics). He would add additional fields, such as anthropology, speech

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communications, and sociology, among many other cores. Additionally, McLean suggested that there might be other fields that have influenced HRD that are perhaps less obvious, such as philosophy, sports, music, literature, technology, and evaluation. This debate between McLean and Swanson on models of HRD is the same fundamental argument that each has regarding how the other has defined HRD. For Swanson (1995), HRD needs a clear definition, sense of purpose, and historical foundations. For McLean (1998), HRD must assume a perspective that allows it to grow, adapt, and become whatever it will and needs to become. HRD Cube The HRD Cube is a developing model of HRD that was created by Lynham (2007, 2008) (Figure 2).

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Figure 2. The HRD Cube: A Synthesis Framework for Selecting and Integrating Foundational Theory, Research, and Practice in HRD

Source: Lynham, (2007, 2008). (This figure is additionally presented as Appendix A and will subsequently be referred to as such.)

The HRD Cube (see Figure 2, as well as Appendix A) is comprised of three sides; each side has as its focus a particular aspect of theory, research, or practice

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perspectives in HRD. The Cube depicts the integration of these theory, research, and practice perspectives. On the x-axis, the Cube defines the informing theoretical foundations of HRD (Lynham, 2007). Lynham presented economics, psychology, anthropology, sociology, systems, political science, and adult education as possible foundations. Additionally, she included an other category that represents other possible fields/disciplines/areas of study from which theory contributing to HRD might have developed. The z-axis focuses on the research perspectives of HRD. Lynham entitled this side, modes of knowledge and inquiry, as this side identifies the metaphysical positioning of HRD inquiry. Within this side, she presented positivism, post-positivism, social constructivism, critical, and participatory as possible metaphysical positions (Lincoln & Lynham, 2007). Additionally, on the z-axis, she added indigenous and other as a possible category in order to emphasize that there may be other potential metaphysical perspectives. The y-axis focuses on the practice perspectives of HRD. Within this axis, the target audiences or outcomes are identified. Lynham presented individual, group, process, organization, family, community, national, regional, and global as possible practice perspectives of HRD (Lynham & Cunningham, 2006). The Cube uses a series of dashed lines that represent its capacity to expand for unidentified or as of yet unknown areas of theory, research, or practice. Additionally, the dashed line represents the openness of the Cube and the interdependence of the 3 sides. Furthermore, Lynham bounds the Cube within the context of social problems and conditions, indicating that the interacting choices regarding modes of inquiry (the z- axis), informing theoretical foundations (the x-axis), and domains of outcome and

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performance (the z-axis) should be directed by the HRD related phenomenon/problem concerned. The HRD Cube was the primary organizer for the research presented in this dissertation. The HRD Cube is perhaps the first model in HRD that depicts the relationship among theory, research, and practice perspectives. Lynham’s (2008) propositions regarding the HRD Cube may help to lead HRD as an area of theory, research, and practice toward a clearer understanding of how knowledge is constructed within HRD and provide an idea of which areas dominate the construction of new knowledge. As with many of the prior described models, the HRD Cube relies on several of the foundational definitions and debates that have been presented within the HRD literature. Within my paradigm, one of the strengths of the HRD Cube is that it is designed to allow for adaptation, such that, when new knowledge or understanding is created/obtained, the Cube can expand or contract to accommodate these new perspectives. Paradigms Modes of thought, ways of being, and the glasses we wear while interpreting the world around us are all analogies of paradigms. Although the word, paradigm, has been in existence since the year 1483 (Paradigm, 2010c), the term gained much of its popularity and recognized status with the work of Kuhn (1996) in the early 1960s. In his seminal text, Kuhn outlined his vision of the meaning of the term scientific revolutions or fundamental changes in the way in which a scientific field understands and accumulates knowledge. Although there have been numerous critiques of Kuhn’s work (Hoyningen-Huene, 1993; Kincaid, 1996), and several authors have noted the various

Full document contains 234 pages
Abstract: This study focused on the issue of paradigms in Human Resource Development (HRD). Its purpose was to validate the HRD Cube as a synthesized model of HRD and to explicate some of the extant paradigms of HRD. The study was carried out by examining the text of articles published in Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD)-sponsored journals. Purposeful, stratified, and random sampling was used to select 16 articles published in AHRD-sponsored journals. Articles were treated as if they were the representative voice(s) of their author(s). Data units from within each article were identified and coded using two sequential techniques. First, units were axially coded and sorted into one of seven pre-determined categories based on the axioms of theory, research, and practice. Second, units were open coded using the constant comparative method, and themes and sub-themes were developed. Axial coding results identified a heavy emphasis on practice . The accumulation of units representing research and theory were comparatively smaller. Evidence of shared perspectives was found that emphasized the practice axiom. The accumulation of units emphasized research-practice , followed by theory-practice , and concluded with theory-research . Data units were also found that described all three axioms concurrently, theory-research-practice . Open coding results identified representative themes and sub-themes within each of the axiom-based categories of theory, research, and practice. Six themes developed in the theory category, 9 themes and 1 sub-theme developed in the research category, and 6 themes and 10 sub-themes developed in the practice category. The results provide evidence to support the overall construction of the HRD Cube. Theory, research, and practice perspectives of HRD were represented within the 16 articles used. The results also support the components described on each side of the HRD Cube. On the theory side, people, processes, and outcomes, and informing disciplines of HRD, were identified. Post-positive, interpretive, and critical epistemologies were identified on the research side. Individual, group, organizational, national, and global levels were identified on the practice side. Given the initial validation and support of the HRD Cube and of the components described within theory, research, and practice sides, within these 16 articles published in AHRD-sponsored journals, at least 18 prospective paradigms of HRD were identified.