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April 2013 Digest

AHRD Digest

April 2013 AHRD Digest

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From the Board

Technically Speaking


Member Spotlight

Job Openings

Research Requests


From the Board

This month’s column comes from Holly Hutchins, Senior VP, Membership Communications & Practice

Are you a Creator or a Consumer AHRD Member?

What does being a member of a professional association mean to you? The formal definition ofmember (as a noun) is "one of the individuals composing a group” (Merriam-Webster, online) suggesting that to be a member of an organization is to simply belong and represented as a static figure on the organization roll. To date, AHRD has 529 members. However, what happens when we think of being a member as an active process (a verb) such that it is more than just being "in” the group and more about engaging in the "creation and sustainability” of the group? Moving our understanding of member or membership from passive to active offers a new way of thinking about our commitment to the groups to which we belong and, specifically, how we all consider our member role in AHRD.


Do you recall the TIME Magazine Person of the Year for 2006? Okay, neither did I, but I should have because it was me! And you, and you over there, and the billions of other people amassing relationships and creating content using technology. In fact, the cover story sub-title was "You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world…” This is still pertinent today, and maybe even more so as social media has expanded the ways we connect and create meaning, thus allowing us to be agents of information in the marketplace of ideas. For the marketplace to work, we need both creators(people who create and share content) and consumers (those who receive or use the information) to keep the conversation going. Using the Global Social Technographics classification of assessing how people engage with social technologies, researchers (in 2010) found that 60-70% of those responding identified as "joiners” or "spectators” with only 30% identifying as active contributors (conversationalists or critics) of content. What this suggests as there are far more people consuming than contributing in the marketplace.


Applying this idea to professional organizations, and specifically as members of AHRD, does this ratio still hold up? I would offer that it does, and similar to the 80/20 Pareto Principle (or the law of the "vital few”) AHRD has historically had a small group of people do the majority of the work around the conference, journals, and in leadership roles. So, my hope through this column is that each member considers how s/he can be co-creators and co-consumers of AHRD? Maybe we label it "creatumer” or "consumerator”? I looked these up and they don’t exist! Here are some ways to consider serving in both roles as an AHRD member:


-Become an active SIG member through serving on the leadership team or leading the creation of a conference symposium or research group on a related topic. Recall that SIGs were originally created to advance scholarly discussion and dissemination. How are you actively participating in advancing this mission?

-Share ideas, research articles, interesting postings, etc. on one of the AHRD social media sites. We clearly have "likes” and "members”, but are you a creator of information?

-Run for the AHRD Board. For me, there has been no greater way to help create the value and vision or AHRD than my service on the Board. I "consume” in this role by observing others’ leadership skills and further developing my own.

-Volunteer to serve as a Conference Track Chair or Reviewer and seek the training and support to be an effective coach and mentor in these roles. These are excellent opportunities to develop emerging talent and hone your own skills in project management, reviewing, and editing.

-Submit articles and review for one of our four HRD journals. We have excellent editors and committed reviewers. Our journals are increasingly gaining attention in other disciplines, and many AHRD members have built their scholarly careers on reading and publishing in our journals.

These are but a few ways of being both a creator and consumer as we continue to advance AHRD as THE Academy of and for Human Resource Development Scholars and Practitioners. I hope you will join me in the AHRD "creatumer/consumerator” space.


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Technically Speaking

Call for Abstracts for a Special Issue of Advances in Developing Human Resources: New Perspectives on Virtual Human Resource Development?Due April 30, 2013. Go to: for the full call.

Issue Editors: Elisabeth E. Bennett (Northeastern University) and Rochell R. McWhorter (The University of Texas – Tyler)


Virtual HRD (VHRD) represents a paradigm shift for the field of human resource development (HRD) (Bennett, 2010; McWhorter, 2010) that is characterized by a focus beyond discrete processes toward the virtual environment in which people work and learn (Bennett, 2009; Bennett & Bierema, 2010). The virtual workplace is now quite common as people use technologies to create virtual spaces (Bennett, 2006; Bennett, 2009) that they can connect within (McWhorter, 2010). In virtual work spaces, people interact with each other, but also interact with objects and various forms of media that can represent values and aspects of organizational culture (Bennett, 2009). This new environment hybridizes work between the local, physical environment and the virtual environment. Although HRD professionals may use instructional technology for training, VHRD is not synonymous with e?learning, but rather focuses on the totality of learning and working within strategic technology?enabled systems.


VHRD is not simply training people to use technology nor is it solely about using online or distance learning programs, although these do play a play role in VHRD. Rather, VHRD has been defined as a "media?rich and culturally relevant web environment that strategically improves expertise, performance, innovation, and community?building through formal and informal learning” (Bennett, 2009, p. 364). This definition simultaneously addresses the individual and the collective levels in strategic alignment, which reflects the HRD tenets of addressing multiple levels of intervention and change, and it recognizes the integrated or networked nature of modern technologies. Intranets, knowledge management systems, and social media demonstrate integration with numerous types of media and communication technologies to create virtual environments in which people interact and they offer numerous opportunities for learning and performance improvement. Informal learning and performance improvement in the everyday may fly under the radar of HRD professionals. They could also foster organizational pathologies if ill?conceived (Bennett & Bierema, 2010).

In this era of sophisticated technologies, HRD professionals must be designers of environments, not just programs. Thus, academic programs must prepare HRD professionals to participate in the design and development of new technology to optimize learning capacity for the individual and the organization (Bennett & McWhorter, in press). Learning is considered an essential process in VHRD, and so VHRD is inextricably human, as are the cultural and community?building activities that can more readily occur in and around modern technology systems. VHRD does not supplant traditional HRD (Bennett, 2010). Indeed, traditional HRD theories, processes, and techniques have never been more necessary. VHRD indicates the need to see beyond simple systems perspectives and toward viewing virtual work and virtual environments from authentic ecological perspectives (Bennett & Bierema, 2010) and meaningful work (Chalofsky, 2012).


The field must consider the HRD professional’s role in developing, implementing, and working within virtual environments and new technologies, especially given the networked or webbed nature of modern technologies. When organizations create and implement technology, they often consider formal learning – that is, instruction designed or led by experts for specific outcomes – but informal learning is often overlooked. In fact, software engineers may not understand the true use and reach of new technologies until they see how people adapt and utilize technology. VHRD draws attention to the importance of informal learning that occurs in the everyday. An operational aspect of VHRD is Technology Development, which has been recommended as a fourth pillar in HRD, along with career development, organization development, and training and development (Bennett, 2010), and it is integral for achieving VHRD. Technology development blends technology with traditional HRD processes and activities to improve learning capacity as well as performance (Bennett & McWhorter, in press). While VHRD is an environmental view, technology development is at the process and interventional view. In the same way in which the other three pillars of HRD interact with one another, there are at least two ways in which technology development is critical for HRD practice. First, technology is often used to support HRD interventions in practice. This is a tool? level focus that provides support for development and change initiatives. For example, a company interested in creating career ladders may use information systems to capture talents and development plans of future leaders. Second,the strategic implementation of new technology requires applying HRD processes, theories, and models.In this case, traditional techniques and processes lend a supporting role to innovation and to the development of new technology. For example, past implementations included Intranets and Knowledge Management Systems, which could have benefited further from HRD perspectives in the early years. Indeed, individual and group learning are necessary for knowledge production in knowledge management literature (Firestone & McElroy, 2003), and so the perspective HRD brings to managing knowledge and implementing work systems is of paramount importance.


The field of HRD is at an historic point in which we must demonstrate value and relevance to the modern, technology?enabled organization. HRD has long sought a balance between the needs of the individual and the needs of the collective, and it has valued both learning and performance. Control and formality necessary for efficiency, reporting, and effectiveness measures must be balanced with authentic, informal, and organic perspectives that allow for innovation and creativity. Because virtual environments are complex, new skills for HRD professionals are needed, such as visual?spatial skills and the ability to conceptualize downstream processes, systems, and potential unintended consequences (Bennett & Bierema, 2010); these new skills allow an HRD professional to act as a bridge between technologists and users (Bennett & McWhorter, in press).


Call for Abstracts
Given the background and foundation of VHRD outlined in this call, we are issuing a call for abstracts for a special theme issue of Advances. It is a follow?up to the 12(6) issue of Advances (McWhorter & Bennett, 2010), which explored the emergence of VHRD. We seek empirical or highly conceptual proposals that demonstrate the ability to build off of the foundation of VHRD laid out in this call and to extend the knowledge?base for this new area of inquiry. Specifically, abstracts should reflect critical thinking about the complexity and the multiple levels of VHRD, rather than report discrete processes or programs. Abstracts that demonstrate integration of learning and technology at multiple levels will be the most competitive. Although authors can provide manuscripts that offer alternative foci, below is a list of suggested topics that fit well with the vision for this issue:

• HRD research that involves strategically aligned and integrated technologies
• Fostering creativity in VHRD
• Preparing employees and/or HRD professionals to optimize VHRD
• Exploration of the skills HRD professionals need to develop new technology to transform ?organizations
• Studies of technology development in which HRD processes were used to develop large ?scale systems
• Cultural perspectives in virtual work environments and virtual community building
• Innovation and expertise development through interaction within media?rich and ?culturally relevant systems
• Informal learning within organizational or group technology systems
• Benefits and conflicts of hybrid work environments
• Interpersonal communication and interaction within technology
• Career development and virtual presence
• Strategic partnerships for developing new technology and implementing VHRD
• Critique of present virtual environments and systems, and the impact on employees ?personal and professional lives


Abstract Submission
• Please provide a short bio (50 to 75 words) and institutional affiliation for each author, and full contact information for the lead/corresponding author.
• Include the initial title and keywords, as well as a statement about whether all or part of the proposed manuscript has been published elsewhere. We are open to publishing prior AHRD conference papers that have not been published elsewhere, assuming the author(s) has retained the copyright and the paper demonstrates the ability be further developed for this issue. If your abstract is based on a conference paper, please provide the original paper with your submission and discuss how you will shorten and develop the paper in keeping with the issue's theme.
• Final manuscripts will be approximately 5000 to 6000 words, depending on the number of manuscripts that will comprise the final issue. APA 6th edition style.
• Abstracts should be 1 page or about 300 words, excluding references, keywords, and bios. Describe the purpose of the proposed manuscript, how it is connected the theme of the issue, and what new perspective your paper brings to the foundation of VHRD.
• Abstracts must be submitted to Liz Bennett at by April 30, 2013.


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Cultural Diversity SIG
Dr. Chaunda L. Scott, past chairperson of the Cultural Diversity SIG, has been named as one of the Top 25 Education Professors in the state of Michigan by The purpose of the top professors list is to highlight post-secondary educators who have been awarded recently for their excellence in the classroom, on campus, and/or in the community.

In addition, Dr. Scott has been named the Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Education and Human Services (SEHS) Dean's Office at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.
Dr. Scott brings both her research and professional experiences to this newly created position to assist the SEHS in moving forward with their new diversity and inclusion projects and activities.

The Workforce Diversity and Inclusion SIG congratulates Dr. Scott on her recent accomplishments as well as her past and present service to the Academy of Human Resource Development.

India HRD SIG: Join us in NEW Conversations!

We invite you to join the discussions on "HRD in India" by going to our newly launched Conversationspage,"India HRD SIG ".


Our Conversations page is intended to stimulate discussions among researchers, scholars, and practitioners interested in Human Resource Development, Training and Development, and Organization Development in India. You will be able to share information about your projects, solicit collaborations, request research support (such as contacts in organizations/universities in India), or any other questions about conducting research in India.

Please introduce yourself on the "Online Open House” and feel free to open a new thread to start a discussion so that other members can respond to you.


To get started, log onto the AHRD website, go to the Conversations link under "People and Communities,” and scroll down to the "India HRD SIG


Critical HRD SIG
The Critical SIG is now on Facebook. Check them out at:

Faculty Learning and Development SIG
The FLD SIG invites members to join their new Facebook page at:


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Member Spotlight

Diane D. Chapman, Teaching Associate Professor and Director, Office of Faculty Development
North Carolina State University


Dr. Diane Chapman is a Teaching Associate Professor and Director of Faculty Development at North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on program evaluation, virtual HRD, contingent faculty issues, and LGBT issues. Diane has been a member of AHRD since 1999. She became involved as a doctoral student and in order to meet people who could inform her research. She share this with the Digest, "Through membership in AHRD and through conference attendance, I have developed relationships with like-minded colleagues resulting in research collaborations, mentoring, and long-term friendships.”


Diane has gone above and beyond to serve the Academy. She has taken on Chair of the technology committee, conference proposal reviewer and track chair, symposium chair, and manuscript reviewer for Human Resource Development Review. Diane is also a member of the Diversity SIG and a member of the Faculty Learning and Development SIG, and serves on the advisory board for the VHRD SIG. She is also the Proceedings Editor for the AHRD International Conference in the Americas for 2013 and 2014.


When asked about her most memorable moment with AHRD, Diane recalled the unforgettable 2008 conference in Panama City, Florida. She stated, "I was responsible for facilitating a panel discussion for the opening evening event. During the afternoon of the event, a tropical storm had moved in while I was getting ready in a room in a different building from the main hotel. It was raining so heavily that water was pouring through the window and soaking up carpeting, inch by inch. It was then that the hotel manager called and told us to take cover in the bathroom due to a tornado headed our way. The only thing we thought to grab was the bottle of wine sitting in the room. By the time the tornado scare was over, it was time to make my way to the ballroom for the event. On my way to the ballroom, I saw several cars were underwater and noticed conference attendees with their pants rolled up, shoes and socks in hand wading through the several inches of water that had accumulated on the ground floor of the hotel. Upon getting to the ballroom, I realized that due to power outages, one of the panelists for the events was not going to be able to be Skyped in as previously planned. In addition, about half of the attendees had flight delays that prevented them from attending the event. In the end, there was nothing left to do but make the best of it and have a good laugh. I will forever remember that conference laughing about our choice of what to save in the tornado, and the vision of my colleagues wading through the water in their dress clothes.”


Diane is currently reading "How Dogmatic Thinking Harms Creativity and Higher Level Thinking” edited by Don Ambrose. She describes is as having really made her reflect upon her own dogmatism in addition to that of others.


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Job Openings

To post a job ad, please fill out this form. Job ads are posted for 90 days and are available to all member and non-members visiting the AHRD website.


Cost of posting:
Members - $25.00
Non-members - $100.00
PEN Members - FREE

If you have any questions, please contact us at


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Research Requests

* Study participation requests have been reviewed and approved by a representative of the AHRD Board

Request to Participate in a Research Study

Strategic Learning Capability
Hanna Moon & Wendy Ruona (University of Georgia)


More than ever before, an organization must be poised to handle strategic challenges in innovative and creative ways. Dr. Wendy Ruona and Hanna Moon at the University of Georgia are currently working on developing a survey that measures an organization’s Strategic Learning Capability—the capacity of an organization to retool rapidly to create and execute new strategies through learning at the individual and system level in response to changes and uncertainties in complex environment. We invite you to take this survey to help us test the instrument. Completing this survey will help us to validate whether the survey being developed is designed to measure what we think it does. We would also greatly appreciate if you would forward this e-mail to 5-10 people in your network and solicit their potential participation.


If you are willing to complete this brief survey, please CLICK HERE. *Note the link to the survey works best using Firefox or Safari.


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