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Digest April 2012
AHRD Digest

April 2012 AHRD Digest

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From the Board
Reflections on the AHRD Early Career Scholar Award

by Holly M. Hutchins & Jia Wang

SIGnals News and Notes

Technically Speaking
Virtual HRD Spotlight: Can Dropbox Increase Your Productivity?

By Diane D. Chapman

Member Spotlight
Khalil Dirani, PhD

Volunteer Opportunities

Job Openings

Announcements and Accomplishments

Final Thoughts

AHRD Member Benefit Quicklinks

From the Board

Reflections on the AHRD Early Career Scholar Award

By Holly M. Hutchins (University of Houston) & Jia Wang (Texas A&M University)


Ever wonder what it takes to be recognized for your research productivity as a tenure-track professor? At the 2012 AHRD Conference in the Americas conference, we were honored to have our scholarly work and contribution to HRD recognized with the prestigious Early Career Scholar Award. This award recognizes an "outstanding HRD scholar in the early stages of his/her career who has made identifiable and significant contributions in scholarly research to the field of HRD.” Given the many awards presented during the ceremony, awardees are not able to share their reflections or thoughts on winning the award. We selected theDigest column as a good place to share these, in addition to suggestions for other faculty who may consider applying for the award.


1. Describe your research stream, and how you developed this during your first few years as a tenure-track faculty.

Jia:In the ten years prior to my entry into academia, I worked in a variety of corporate positions related to human resources in diverse cultures (Chinese, African, British, and American) and within highly complex organizations. In these organizations, I experienced changes at multiple levels, witnessed business failures, and coped constantly with crisis events. These experiences formed the foundation of my research and made me keenly aware of the importance of developing people and organizations that are capable of producing high performance in rapidly changing environments. My research agenda has been built on my professional experience and is constantly evolving with my enhanced knowledge about the field of HRD and its emerging trends. Within a central focus on enhancing individual and organizational effectiveness in dealing with changes through various HRD interventions, I have been pursuing three lines of inquiry: 1) international / national human resource development; 2) crisis management; and 3) learning within organizations. In the first three or four years, my research primarily focused on HRD, particularly management development in transitioning China. It gradually expanded into the area of crisis management. The line of research was triggered by the fact that there are an increasing number of natural and man-made crisis events that affect individuals and organizations. I was glad that Holly Hutchins and I are among the first HRD scholars exploring the role of HRD in crisis management. While my research on learning within organizations is still emerging, I have researched this concept in the contexts of China management training and crisis management—my other two lines of research. Three of my publications reflect such an intersection.



Holly: My primary research area is transfer of training, with secondary areas in crisis management and e-Learning. I focused a lot on transfer of learning in my first few years, spending a lot of time on the integrative literature review (Burke & Hutchins, 2007) and on a data set that explored practitioners' use, knowledge of, and information-seeking strategies of transfer evidence-based practices (Burke & Hutchins, 2008; Hutchins, 2009; Hutchins, Burke & Berthelsen, 2010). Both of these pursuits yielded several publications and recognition as contributions to the field. Transfer of training research can get redundant after a while, so the bigger question for us (with Lisa Burke) was why trainers don’t use more of our research to inform practice since the research is fairly consistent success factors. To explore that question, we delved into an area that was new, exciting, and yielded some useful data to examine this issue. I was then inspired to explore HRD’s role in crisis management and learning (Hutchins & Wang, 2008) after attending the 2007 AHRD Conference and also experiencing the multiple Gulf Coast hurricanes. Jia was also interested in collaborating, given her work in organizational learning and that she was living in Florida at the time. From that collaboration, we co-authored the ADHR issue on Crisis Management (10:3), which was the first time that HRD had explored crisis management and learning in this way.


2. What factors contributed to your success at winning the Early Career Scholar Award?

Jia:I can think of a number of factors. First, you need to identify topics you are passionate about. In my case, my diverse cultural experiences laid a solid foundation for my research agenda, so I was able to stay focused and motivated. Second, be open-minded. By that I mean perceiving research as an evolving journey and allowing yourself to embrace and experiment with new ideas in research. My research on crisis management is one example in this regard. Third, seek constant advice and feedback from senior faculty and collaboration opportunities. The mentoring and collaborations enabled me to become a stronger writer, researcher, and form some important professional relationships. Next, have a clear vision and goal set early on. If winning the Early Career Scholar Award is one of your goals, develop a strategic plan to get there. Finally, volunteer with the Academy of HRD. I have grown so much with this wonderful organization during the past ten years. Not only have I made some great friends, I have also developed my leadership skills and increased my visibility in this community. So volunteer your services whenever you can! You will find it a very rewarding experience.


Holly: Good collaborations, intentional focus with my research, and balancing time between large and easier projects. I’ve been fortunate to have great collaborators along the way; co-authors who are reliable, diligent and contribute in ways that leverage their strengths. I’ve learned how to be a reliable collaborator as well, so I’ve been able to increase my visibility as a scholar through building successful relationships both within and outside of AHRD. A colleague of mine at UH used to suggest selecting the "low hanging fruit” in terms of balancing your research time. Because of good collaborations, I was able to participate in meaningful research that didn’t take up a lot of my time but that enabled me to focus on the larger projects (those previously mentioned).


I also want to recognize the immense developmental experience I had as an AHRD member. Although my PhD program and my faculty experience at UH have added to my scholar development, the exposure to exemplary researchers in AHRD (Jia being one of these) and the conference experience has done far more at refining my research expertise. To me, the value of AHRD is simple: scholarly development, support, and inspiration.


3. What suggestions would you offer other faculty considering applying for the next Early Career Scholar Award?

Jia: I am not sure if I have good suggestions here. But if you know this is your goal from earlier on, hopefully you have already given yourself sufficient time to build a strong portfolio. Prepare your packet earlier, review the criteria carefully, and make sure your supporters (those you invite to write support letters) address all the issues listed in the criteria.



Holly: I definitely agree with Jia’s points about making the award a goal and working toward it. Also, carefully review the award criteria, and understand your scholarly performance and impact. Ask others to review your CV to assess your contribution. You can document your impact using Google Scholar and the Most Cited/Most Accessed rankings of the AHRD journals.



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SIGnals News and Notes

The HRD Theory SIG is planning an idea sharing teleconference and needs the help of members. The SIG is forming a steering committee and also soliciting ideas for an event at next year's AHRD conference in Washington, DC. Individuals may contact either Catherine Marsh or Carol Rusaw for information.


Incoming SIGnal:

State of the Critical and Social Justice Perspectives SIG

As members of the Critical HRD and Social Justice Perspectives SIG, we are pleased to report that our meeting at AHRD 2012 in Denver was a tremendous success and led to the development of what we believe to be a productive agenda for the next year as the SIG continues to gain visibility and recognition within the Academy. The Critical SIG aims to create alternative understandings of HRD processes and outcomes by promoting diversity, change, pluralism, and equality across societies and cultures. We believe that many within the Academy share these objectives, whether you identify as a Critical Theory scholar or practitioner or not. In the next year, we hope to continue to raise awareness of critical issues within the field by doing such things as:

  • Facilitating a webinar to highlight papers that have a critical perspective and to demonstrate the usefulness of that perspective in HRD.
  • Contributing to the AHRD Digest on a more consistent basis.
  • Developing an innovative session for the AHRD 2013 conference and serving as reviewers for manuscripts in several different tracks.
  • Writing our own newsletter to highlight the work and aims of the SIG.
  • Building long-lasting collaborative relationships with other SIGs.

We hope that you will join us in helping to make the next year a very successful one, both for the Critical and Social Justice Perspective SIG and for the entire Academy of Human Resource Development. If you are interested in getting involved with the Critical and Social Justice Perspectives SIG, please feel free to contact Julie Gedro (Chair) by e-mailing or Joshua Collins (Communication Director) by e-mailing We welcome your inquiry and support with open arms and minds!


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Technically Speaking

Virtual HRD Spotlight: Can Dropbox Increase Your Productivity?

By Diane D. Chapman


As HRD practitioners and researchers increasingly find themselves working collaboratively across distances and time, working remotely, and working on many simultaneous projects, the need to use technology to manage work grows. Mobile learning has not only brought about new ways of thinking about our work, but it has also brought about software applications that can increase our ability to access the information we need any time, from anywhere, and through a growing range of devices. One such application is Dropbox (

Dropbox is a free application that allows users to store any type of document on a secure, remote, web-based server and access it from a PC, Mac, laptop, cellular phone, iPad, and a range of other Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile devices. To utilize the application, users simply download the software to their computer. The software will create a "Dropbox folder” on the computer, where users save or copy any types of files. The software automatically uploads whatever is in the folder to the remote server. Users can then access those files through their own computer or log into Dropbox on the Web from any computer. Better yet, users can download the Dropbox app to their cell phones, iPads or tablet PCs, and more. This multi-platform availability allows access to files on the go, from any location, eliminating the need to email files or be without files when they are needed. As the Dropbox slogan claims, users have access to "Your life’s work, wherever you are.”

Dropbox gives users up to 2 gigabytes of free space with more available for purchase. One can also increase the amount of free space through inviting others to sign up for the application. One of the unique functions of Dropbox is the ability to share folders and files with others, eliminating the need to worry about working on different versions of the same document. It also protects files; for example, in the case of a hard drive crash, a user can just install Dropbox on a different computer and the stored files will automatically download. Everything from sharing photos with family members to collaboratively developing proposals and papers can be done using Dropbox. Therefore, it is a tool that can help HRD professionals be more productive both at home and at work.


Member Spotlight

Khalil DiraniKhalil Dirani, PhD

Khalil Dirani, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy at the University of Georgia and has been an active member of AHRD since 2002. During that time, Khalil has been actively involved in several Academy groups and initiatives to improve HRD research and scholarship. In particular, he has reviewed for and presented at the AHRD conference in the Americas, is chair of the International HRD SIG, and served as Associate Editor of the AHRD Conference proceedings. Khalil is currently reading: Here's Looking at Euclid: From Counting Ants to Games of Chance - An Awe-Inspiring Journey Through the World of Numbers (Bellos, A., 2011). Khalil also shared with us some memorable moments from the recent 2012 AHRD Conference in Denver. He enjoyed all the sessions and the Gala Dinner – which was made more special since it represented the conclusion of a successful conference. He also found it funny when everyone was trying to pronounce his name correctly after making a joke about it at the opening session.


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Volunteer Opportunities

Be an active member. Get involved in AHRD!

Qualitative Inquiry SIG: In May, the QISIG plans to hold elections for a new steering committee member and new chair. Any member of QISIG interested in serving on the committee can send their intent to be on the ballot to Kori Whitener-Fellows by April 30 at


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Job Openings


Organization: Oakland University
Location (City/State): Rochester, Michigan

Senior Lecturer/Lecturer in Organisation Human Resource Management
Organization: Northumbria University
Location (City/State): Newcastle, UK

Talent Development Lead - The W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Organization: Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group
Location (City/State): Battle Creek, MI

Assistant Professor
Organization: Indiana State University
Location (City/State): Terre Haute, IN


For additional information about any of these openings, check out the Career Opportunities page on the AHRD website.back to top

Announcements and Accomplishments

AHRD Is on Facebook

Thanks to you, the Academy’s presence on Facebook is growing! In the month of March the page introduced our FB fans to new HRD blogs, current research and news on women in business, non-profits, veterans and workforce development, teamwork, and emerging research methods. It also has some great pictures captured at the recent Denver conference. Got a new book out? Post it to the page. Have a question that other members can help you answer? Post it there. Looking for collaborators for a new project? Let us know on Facebook. Be sure to "Like Us” and find what is happening with the Academy and the field of HRD. It is a public page, so please share the link with your students and nonmembers so we can spread the reach of the Academy and its members.


PMI Academic Resources Opens Call for Research Proposals

This year’s call for proposals for 2013 funding opened on 1 February and closes on 25 April 2012.

We seek proposals from scholars, both within and outside the field of project management, including management, organizational psychology, sociology, education, linguistics and others. Proposed research must have a direct application to some aspect of the project management body of knowledge or its practice. In addition, we encourage proposals on research involving multi-disciplinary teams of investigators or teams consisting of academics and practitioners, who bring new ways of thinking and related bodies of literature to the field.


Those advancing to the second round will be notified by July 2012. All grant recipients will be notified of awards up to US $50,000 by November 2012. Funded projects begin on 1 January 2013. 


Learn more.


Hosted by European School of Management & Technology and the International Leadership Association; will take place June 13-15, 2012, at ESMT's campus in the center of Berlin. The forum is designed for board and senior management level executives in charge of strategic decisions regarding workplace structures, as well as leadership and talent development coaches and consultants in these areas, and HR professionals, as well as academics, government and NGO officials interested and focused in the areas of leadership and demography and will address the implications of this demographic crossroad from an international perspective.

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Final Thoughts

This month’s final thought is the result of our scramble contest. A $25 Amazon gift certificate was up for grabs to the AHRD member who unscrambled the most anagrams of names of well-known AHRD authors, scholars, researchers, and general hangers-on.

Congratulations to Rachelle Lehner. She correctly unscrambled the eight anagrams. Thank you to all who entered. Keep an eye out for more contests in the future.

  1. Crash now drains – Richard Swanson
  2. Yearly drool – Larry Dooley
  3. Sneerful trades – Darelene Russ Eft
  4. Swankier tank – Karen Watkins
  5. Manly grace – Gary McLean
  6. Unready, now – Wendy Ruona
  7. Jig rely rely – Jerry Gilley
  8. Hot green – Gene Roth

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