Everything you need to know about the evolution of HRD (human resource development.) Human Resource Development (HRD) is that part of Human Resource Management which specifically deals with the training and development of employees.

It helps the employees in developing their knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve self-fulfilment and aid in the accomplishment of organizational goals.

HRD includes the areas of employee training, career development, performance management, coaching, mentoring, key employee identification, talent development and organization development. Developing a highly productive and superior workforce is the aim of HRD activities.

The human resource development has not developed within a short period. It took decades together for development of HRD concept to the present form. Evolution of it can be traced as way back to beginning of industrialization. It is necessary to trace history of it for understanding the modern concept of HRD.


The stages of HRD evolution are as follows:-

1. Early Training Programmes Arranged by Shopkeepers 2. Early Vocational Education Programmes in USA 3. Early Factory Schools in Developed Countries 4. Early Training Programmes for Semi-Skilled and Unskilled Workers

5. Human Relations Movement 6. Establishment of New Training Programme 7. Emergence of Human Resource Development Concept 8. HRD Concept and Philosophy.

Also, learn about the origin and history of human resource development in India.

Evolution of Human Resource Development Over the Period of Time

Evolution of Human Resource Development – 8 Main Stages: Training Programmes Arranged by Shopkeepers, Vocational Education Programmes in USA and a Few Others

The effective performance of an organisation depends not just on the available resources, but its quality and competence as required by the organisation from time to time. The difference between two nations largely depends on the level of quality of human resources.


Similarly, the difference in the level of performance of two organisations also depends on the utilisation value of human resources. Moreover, the efficiency of production process and various areas of management depend to a greater extent on the level of human resources development.

HRD assumes significance in view of the fast changing organisational environments and need of the organisation to adopt new techniques in order to respond to the environmental changes.

Human Resource Development (HRD) is that part of Human Resource Management which specifically deals with the training and development of employees. It helps the employees in developing their knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve self-fulfilment and aid in the accomplishment of organizational goals.


HRD can be defined as organized learning activities arranged within an organization in order to improve performance and/or personal growth for the purpose of improving the job, the individual, and/or the organization.

HRD includes the areas of employee training, career development, performance management, coaching, mentoring, key employee identification, talent development and organization development. Developing a highly productive and superior workforce is the aim of HRD activities.

The role of human beings in an organization’s success is deeply recognized. Many formal and informal methods are used for developing the employees. HRD strives for the improvement of not just the individual workers, but for the growth of the group and organization as a whole.

The human resource development has not developed within a short period. It took decades together for development of HRD concept to the present form. Evolution of it can be traced as way back to beginning of industrialization. It is necessary to trace history of it for understanding the modern concept of HRD.


The evolution involves the following stages:

Stage # 1. Early Training Programmes Arranged by Shopkeepers:

In early stage of industrialization the skilled artisan used to produce household goods. With the increasing demand of their products, they started giving training to their workers and sometime they used to keep extra manpower. These people were trained some-time with pay or without pay.

They used to work with the owners because their resources were limited and they were not in a position to invest for machines and infrastructure facilities. They worked for longer period with the shopkeepers because they were unable to start their own shop. Later on this apprentice model was adopted for training of doctors, educationist and lawyers.

The workers who acquired all skills of an efficient worker were called yeomen. Some of them left their masters and started their own shop but many of them could not start because they could not afford to buy tools and equipment for their craft shops. With growing number of skilled craftsman they formed their network to establish standards of product quality, wages of workers, working hours and apprentice testing procedure.


This way the craft guilds were established and became powerful. It made difficult for yeomen to start their own independent craft shops. The yeomen too started their guilds and these started working to protect their interests in negotiating for higher wages, better working conditions and reasonable working hours. These were the forerunners of present trade unions.

Stage # 2. Early Vocational Education Programmes in USA:

With the objective to provide vocation training to unskilled young and unemployed people Mr. D. Clinton established a vocational school in New York City in USA in early beginning of nineteenth century. This was accepted and got popularity slowly. Further it provided training to unemployed with criminal records.

This provided solution of the social problems in mid- eastern states in USA. This school was accepted as a model for vocational education and government passed The Smith-Hughes Act. Under this Act the value of vocational education was recognized and funds were allocated for this purpose for state programmes in agricultural trades, home economics, industry, and teacher training.

Nowadays the vocation education is an important part of every state public education systems. This has been accepted in other countries including India.

Stage # 3. Early Factory Schools in Developed Countries:


With the development of science and technology, new machines and equipment were introduced in manufacturing. This led to industrialization in developed countries first mainly. The manual workers were replaced by machines. Under scientific management principles advocated by Henry Fayol and F.W. Taylor the importance of machines in production system for better and efficient performance was realized.

The demand for skilled and semi-skilled workers increased. The semi-skilled workers were used for production and skilled workers were used for designing, repairing and assembly of machines. This way the factory system developed. The demand of skilled workers was not fulfilled due to short supply.

Further rapid increase in number of factories this demand was increased more. In order to meet this demand, some of the companies established factory school. The training programmes were prepared and workers were trained to meet the increasing demand.

First school of this type was established at Hoe & Company in New York and later on in the last quarter of nineteenth century other companies also established such schools. The focus of these schools was to develop skills of workers for a particular job related to the factory work and not in general.

Stage # 4. Early Training Programmes for Semi-Skilled and Unskilled Workers:


In the beginning training was only given to skilled workers and not to unskilled or semi-skilled workers. In 1913 a model of car for mass public known as model T was produced by Ford Company. It used an assembly line to produce this car with the help of semi-skilled workers. The assembly line production technique reduced the production cost and it was possible to provide a car at lower price.

This became affordable to a larger segment of the public. With the increased demand it was required to design and operate more assembly lines. This increased opportunities for training. Other manufacturers of automobiles too started using assembly line. Next reason for demand of semi-skilled workers was a historical event known as outbreak of World War I. The demand of military weapons increased drastically.

To produce more military weapons many new factories were established. Further the demand for semi-skilled workers increased. To fulfil the demand of semi-skilled workers training programmes were started to train the workers on-the-job. This was called job instructional training (JIT) and in present time it is known as on-the-job-training method.

Stage # 5. Human Relations Movement:

Due to industrialization the production started at large-scale. The demand of products increased due to two World Wars and increased population. Workers were asked to work for longer hours, with very poor working conditions at a meagre salary and unfavourable attitude of the management. It can be said that they were exploited in the factory system.

The deplorable condition of workers became reason of anti-factory campaign at national level. It was led by Mary Parker Follett and Lillian Gilberth and it was known as human relations movement. Under this movement it was advocated that the workers are human being and not a part of the machine. They must be treated like a human being and not a machine. At workplace their requirements should be fulfilled to a satisfactory level.

The importance of human behaviour at work was accepted as an important factor for better performance. This was also supported by Chester Barnard, in 1938 and said that an organisation is a social structure and integrating principles of management and behavioural science at work. Abraham Maslow published his Motivation Theory based on human needs, stating that people can be motivated by different levels of needs.


It was accepted by industrialists as a tool to motivate people by fulfilling their needs and increased their production. Further, Elton Mayo carried out Hawthorne experiments and advocated the impact of human involvement in the job if they are cared properly.

Other experts also expressed their views and advocated that human resource is an important resource and it must be looked after properly at workplace. This may help to increase quality and quantity of performance and reduce production costs.

Stage # 6. Establishment of New Training Programme:

The demand of military weapons and equipment increased further due to outbreak of World War II. Industries were asked to support the war efforts by manufacturing military weapons. It was needed to re-arrange the production facilities at large-scale to meet the need of the war. Demand of skilled workers increased further.

The initiatives were taken to establish new training programmes with the larger organisations and unions. The federal government took lead and established the Training within Industry (TWI) Service to coordinate training programmes in industries where military war related goods were produced. Instructors of different industries were trained by TWI so to enable each manufacturing unit to start training at their plant itself.

TWI trained nearly 25,000 instructors by the end of the war. The supervisors were issued certificates from many industrial units. With the trained instructors many companies designed, organized and arranged for training programme. Most of defence-related companies established their own training departments for training of their own workers. Due to this the demand of skilled workers was met and production of military related goods increased to meet the requirement of World War II.

Further to improve the standard of training in 1942, the American Society for Training Directors (ASTD) was formed to establish standards of training in emerging profession in the country. To become members of ASTD qualification and experience criteria were fixed by ASTD.

Stage # 7. Emergence of Human Resource Development Concept:


After World War the importance of human resource was realized more in comparison with the past. The trained instructors realize that their role is not limited to classroom training. They can play an important role outside of classroom also. They started coaching, counselling and problem-solving activities.

To perform this task the need for training and development skills including inter-personal skills, coaching, group facilitation and problem-solving was strongly felt by the management. The focus on human resource development inspired ASTD to rename itself. It was renamed as American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

During seventies and eighties ASTD arrange for many national conferences and discussion was mainly on training and development of employees. As a result, the ASTD approved and accepted the concept of human resource development and linked it support and contribute in accomplishment of objectives of the organisation.

Further, it was advocated that through HRD efforts the performance and efficiency of employees and system can be improved. In this direction in 1990s, efforts were made to strengthen the strategic role of HRD.

Stage # 8. HRD Concept and Philosophy:

With increasing global competition, it has become difficult for organisations to start, survive, grow, stabilize and excel their performance in business. They are under tremendous pressure to improve their performance quantitatively and qualitatively with cost effectiveness.

The new challenges are faced by the management The challenges faced by business organisations are how to improve profitability, tune products and services as per changing need of customers and organisational development to stay in competitive race of business. To tackle this situation the different experts suggested different activities and management has recognized the development of competency of people, coordination between people at different levels, minimizing production costs and improving productivity.


All these activities were clubbed together under umbrella of human resource development. Human resource development concept has been defined by different human resource management experts like Nadler, Billimorea and Singh, Ishwar Dayal, T.V.S. Rao and Udai Parikh.

From the study of above mentioned definitions given by experts it can be said that HRD is the process of helping people to acquire competencies. In an organisational context, HRD is a process by which the employees of an organisation are helped in a continuous and systematic way to –

(i) Acquire or develop capabilities required to perform various functions relating to their present and future roles.

(ii) Improve their general capabilities as individuals, discover and exploit their available potential for their own and organisational development purpose.

(iii) Improve supervisor-subordinate relationship, teamwork and collaboration among different departments in an organisational culture and to contribute to the welfare, motivation and pride of employees. Human resource development therefore is defined as the total knowledge, skills, creative abilities, talents and aptitudes of an organisation’s workforce as well as the values, attitudes and beliefs of the individuals involved.

Human resource development is a systematic and planned activities designed by an organisation to provide its members with the opportunities and facilities to learn necessary skills and develop competencies to perform the current jobs and prepare them for further jobs also. Human resource development process is facilitated by mechanisms or sub-systems like performance appraisal, training, organisational development, potential development, job rotation, welfare and reward.


People are helped to acquire new competencies through various systems continuously. This has been realized and accepted at macro, micro and individual levels. Under different universities and institutions degree and diploma courses in HRD were introduced at graduation and post-graduation levels in different countries including India also.

Evolution of Human Resource Development – Origin of Human Resource Development

While the term “human resource development” (HRD) has only been in common use since the 1980s, the concept has been around a lot longer than that. To understand its modern definition, it is helpful to briefly recount the history of this field.

The origins of HRD can be traced to apprenticeship training programmes in the eighteenth century. During this time, small shops operated by skilled artisans produced virtually all household goods, such as furniture, clothing, and shoes. To meet a growing demand for their products, craft shop owners had to employ additional workers. Without vocational or technical schools, the shopkeepers had to educate and train their own workers. For little or no wages, these trainees, or apprentices, learned the craft of their master, usually working in the shop for several years until they became proficient in their trade.

Not limited to the skilled trades, the apprenticeship model was also followed in the training of physicians, educators, and attorneys. Even as late as the 1920s, a person apprenticing in a law office could practice law after passing a state-supervised exam.

Mastered Apprentices having necessary skills were considered “yeomen,” and could leave their masters and establish their own craft shops; however, most remained with their masters because they could not afford to buy the tools and equipment needed to start their own craft shops.

To address a growing number of yeomen, master craftsmen formed a network of private “franchises” so they could regulate such things as product quality, wages, hours, and apprentice testing procedures. These craft guilds grew to become powerful political and social forces within their communities, making it even more difficult for yeomen to establish independent craft shops.


By forming separate guilds called yeomanries, the yeomen counter-balanced the powerful craft guilds and created a collective voice in negotiating higher wages and better working conditions. Yeomanries were the forerunners of modern labour unions.

In 1809, a man named DeWitt Clinton founded the first recognised privately funded vocational school, also referred to as manual school, in New York City. The purpose of the manual school was to provide occupational training to unskilled young people who were unemployed or had criminal records. Manual schools grew in popularity, particularly in the mid- western states, because they were a public solution to a social problem: what to do with “misdirected” youths. Regardless of their intent, these early forms of occupational training established a prototype for vocational education.

In 1917, Congress passed the Smith-Hughes Act, which recognised the value of vocational education by granting funds targeted for state programmes in agricultural trades, home economics, industry, and teacher training. Today, vocational instruction is an important part of each state’s public education system. In fact, given the current concerns about a “skills gap”, vocational education has become even more critical.

With the advent of the Industrial Revolution during the late 1800s, machines began to replace the hand tools of the artisans. “Scientific” management principles recognised the significant role of machines in better and more efficient production systems. Specifically, semi­skilled workers using machines could produce more than the skilled workers in small craft shops could. This marked the beginning of factories as we know them today.

Factories made it possible to increase production by using machines and unskilled workers, but they also created a significant demand for the engineers, machinists, and skilled mechanics needed to design, build, and repair the machines. Fuelled by the rapid increase in the number of factories, the demand for skilled workers soon outstripped the supply of vocational school graduates.

In order to meet this demand, factories created mechanical and machinist training programmes, which were referred to as “factory schools.” The first documented factory school, in 1872, was located at Hoe and Company, a New York manufacturer of printing presses. This was soon followed by Westinghouse in 1888, General Electric and Baldwin Locomotive in 1901, and International Harvester in 1907.

Although both apprenticeship programmes and factory schools provided training for skilled workers, very few companies during this time offered training programmes for the unskilled or semi-skilled worker. This changed with the advent of two significant historical events’. The first was the introduction of the Model T by Ford in 1913. The Model T was the first car to be mass- produced using an assembly line, in which production required only the training of semi-skilled workers to perform several tasks.

The new assembly lines cut production costs significantly, and Ford lowered its prices, making the Model T affordable to a much larger segment of the public. With the increased demand for the Model T, Ford had to design more assembly lines, and this provided more training opportunities. Most of the other automobile manufacturers who entered the market used assembly line processes, resulting in a proliferation of semi-skilled training programmes.

Another significant historical event was the outbreak of World War I. To meet the huge demand for military equipment, many factories that produced non-military goods had to retool their machinery and retrain their workers, including the semi-skilled. For instance, the U.S. Shipping Board was responsible for coordinating the training of shipbuilders to build warships.

To facilitate the training process, Charles Allen, director of training, instituted a four-step instructional method referred to as “show, tell, do, check” for all of the training programmes offered by the Shipping Board. This technique was later named job instruction training (JIT) and is still in use today for training workers on the job.

One of the by-products of the factory system was the frequent abuse of skilled workers, including children, who were often subjected to unhealthy working conditions, long hours, and low pay. The appalling conditions spurred a national anti-factory campaign. Led by Mary Parker Follett and Lillian Gilbreth, the campaign gave rise to the “human relations” movement advocating more humane working conditions.

Among other things, the human relations movement provided a more complex and realistic understanding of workers as people instead of merely “cogs” in a factory machine. The human relations movement highlighted the importance of human behaviour on the job. This was also addressed by Chester Barnard, the president of New Jerser Bell Telephone, in his influential 1938 book titled The Functions of the Executive.

The movement continued into the 1940s, with World War II as a backdrop. Abraham Maslow published his theory on human needs, stating that people can be motivated by non-economic incentives. He proposed that human needs are arranged in terms of lesser to greater potency (strength), and distinguished between lower order (basic survival) and higher order (psychological) needs. Theories like Maslow’s serve to reinforce the notion that the varied needs and desires of workers can become important sources of motivation in the workplace.

With the outbreak of World War II, the industrial sector was once again asked to retool its factories to support the war effort. As had happened in World War I this initiative led to the establishment of new training programmes within larger organisations and unions. The federal government established the Training within Industry (TWI) Service to coordinate training programmes across defence related industries.

TWI also trained company instructors to teach their programmes at each plant. By the end of the war, the TWI had trained over 23,000 instructors, awarding over 2 million certificates to supervisors from 16,000 plants, unions, and services.

Many defence-related companies established their own training departments with instructors trained by TWI. These departments designed, organised, and coordinated training across the organisation. In 1942, the American Society for Training Directors (ASTD) was formed to establish some standards within this emerging profession.

At the time, the requirements for full membership in ASTD included a college or university degree plus two years of experience in training or a related field, or five years of experience in training. A person working in a training function or attending college qualified for associate membership.

During the 1960s and 1970s, professional trainers realised that their role extended beyond the training classroom. The move toward employee involvement in many organisations required trainers to coach and counsel employees. Training and development (T&D) competencies therefore expanded to include interpersonal skills such as coaching, group process facilitation, and problem solving.

This additional emphasis on employee development inspired the ASTD to rename itself as the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). The 1980s saw even greater changes affecting the T&D field. At several ASTD national conferences held in the late 1970s and early 1980s, discussions centred on this rapidly expanding profession.

As a result, the ASTD approved the term human resource development to encompass this growth and change. In the 1990s, efforts were made to strengthen the strategic role of HRD, that is, how HRD links to and supports the goals and objectives of the organisation.

There was also an emphasis within ASTD (and elsewhere) on performance improvement as the particular goal of most training and HRD efforts, and on viewing organisations as high performance work systems.

Evolution of Human Resource Development – History of HRD in India

It was 30 years ago that our country witnessed the emergence of a new HRD culture in our country with Prof Udai Pareek and Prof T.V.Rao heading the movement. What started as a “Review Exercise of the Perfor­mance Appraisal System” for L&T by two consultants, Prof Udai Pareek and Prof T.V.Rao from the Indian Institute Of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), resulted in the development of a new function called The HRD Function.

The Human Resource Development as a function has evolved in India very indigenously from the year 1975 when L&T Company con­ceptualized HRD as an integrated system and decided to separate it from Personnel. Since then, in the last 30 years most organizations have started new HR Departments or redesignated their personnel and other depart­ments as HRD Departments. Today there are high expectations from HRD. Good HRD requires well-structured function and appropriately identified HRD systems, and competent staff to implement and facilitate the change process.

In the early seventies this company, in association with IIMA the reviewed all aspects of its operations. In 1974, the consultants studied the organization and prepared a new integrated system called Human Re­source Development (HRD) System. This was probably the first of its kind in India. The new system clearly established the linkages between the various personnel related aspects such as performance appraisal, employee counseling, potential appraisal training, etc.

Prof Pareek and Prof Rao presented an approach paper to the top management on the new ideas and this was accepted. The Company wanted the implemen­tation also to be done by the consultants, as it was not sure that enough expertise was available on the human process within the organization. The consultants however felt that L&T managers had enough compe­tence and insisted that an internal team undertake this task.

Thus, an internal team with the help of the consultants undertook the work and this was very satisfying. Based on the recommendations of the approach paper, a very high level role was created at the Board level to give a greater thrust to the new system. A separate HRD Department was created. A high level internal team headed by a general manager, monitored the progress of implementation of the new system initially, which was subsequently handed over to the HRD Department.

The HRD system has since then been reviewed from time to time and improve­ments made, retaining the basic philosophy. The original consultancy reports of Dr. Udai Pareek and Dr. T.V.Rao have sown the seeds for this new function and new profession. This pioneering work of Dr. Rao and Dr. Pareek lead later top the establishment of HRD Departments in the State Bank of India and its Associates, and Bharat Earth Movers Limited in Bangalore in 1976 and 1978.

The first HRD workshop to discuss HRD concepts and issues was held at IIMA in 1979. Several chapters of the book, which was later, published by Oxford & IBH as “Designing and Managing Human Re­source Systems” were distributed in this workshop. This workshop was the beginning of spreading the HRD message. In subsequent years begin­ning 1980 a series of workshops were held to develop HRD facilitators, both at IIMA and in the Indian Society for Applied Behavioral Sciences (ISABS).

IIMA workshops focused in the conceptual parts and ISABS on experimental part. As HRD started growing Larsen & Toubro instituted a HRD Chair Professorship at XLRT, Jamshedpur. Dr. T.V.Rao moved to XLRI as L&T Professor in 1983 to set up the Centre for HRD. Subse­quently, a National Seminar was organized in Bombay during February 1985 jointly by XLRI Centre for HRD and the HRD Department of Larsen & Toubro. The National HRD Network was conceived during this semi­nar.

The first HRD Newsletter was started consequent to this seminar by the Centre for HRD for XLRI and was sponsored by L&T. The National HRD Network took shape and became a large body with about 20 chap­ters in the subsequent five year period. The National HRD Network was nurtured by IIMA and XLRI on the one hand and by the corporate sector on the other. The National HRD Network later gave birth to the Academy of Human Resources Development. This is the first family tree of HRD in India.