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Influence of Human Resource Development Practices on Organizational Change Management: The Linking Perspective to Modern Organizations


human resource development, change, organizations, organizational change.

Research Identity (RIN)





The term human resource development (HRD) refers to design and applications of formal system in an organization to ensure effective and efficient use of human talent for achieving goals of organization. The concept of (HRD) gained importance when it became clear, that strategic decisions are more related to human resource considerations and human resource development has impact on an organization ?s strategic capability. Change is probably the first and foremost management issue of today especially in the management of human resources. It represents growth, opportunity and innovation on one hand and skepticism and anxiety on the other. Organizational change is seen as a necessary concept for organizations to compete in the ever changing and competitive business environment. The rapid development of information and communication technology have prompted many organizations to actively seek for new ways, ideas and creative solutions in improving their current product, process, system and technology. The aim of this paper therefore was to study the relationship between human resource development and organizational change, challenges in instituting change and strategies that can make employees more adaptive and receptive to changes.

Influence of Human Resource Development Practices on Organizational Change Management: The Linking Perspective to Modern Organizations

Jeffrey Mutiso α, Stanley Kipsang σ & Maureen Chemirmir ρ

Author α σ ρ: Moi University, Department of Development Studies P.o. Box 3900 Eldoret.  

  1. Abstract

The term human resource development (HRD) refers to design and applications of formal system in an organization to ensure effective and efficient use of human talent for achieving goals of organization. The concept of (HRD) gained importance when it became clear, that strategic decisions are more related to human resource considerations and human resource development has impact on an organization ́s strategic capability. Change is probably the first and foremost management issue of today especially in the management of human resources. It represents growth, opportunity and innovation on one hand and skepticism and anxiety on the other. Organizational change is seen as a necessary concept for organizations to compete in the ever changing and competitive business environment. The rapid development of information and communication technology have prompted many organizations to actively seek for new ways, ideas and creative solutions in improving their current product, process, system and technology. The aim of this paper therefore was to study the relationship between human resource development and organizational change, challenges in instituting change and strategies that can make employees more adaptive and receptive to changes.

Keywords: human resource development, change, organizations, organizational change.


Change can be regarded as the process of analyzing the past to elicit the present actions required for the future. It encompasses moving from a present state, through transition state to a future desired state. Change can also be defined to mean n alteration in the existing field of forces that tends to affect the status quo. In order for equilibrium to be restored, action has to be taken. Organizations perceive change as very important for its survival and prosperity in today’s most competitive environment and new business challenges. They make change initiative to keep up the pace with changing environment and new challenging competition. The success and performance superiority of organi- zations are very much dependent on its ability to align its internal arrangement with the demand of external world.

According to Kotter, (2005) change involves conflict.  In fact, the essence of change is a process of resolving tension and conflict within a system.  Part of the energy for change is unleashed by dynamic resolution of conflict among various stakeholders in the organization. This is the fundamental mechanism by which the assumptions of the status quo are challenged. Consequently, change involves establishing political mechanisms by which stakeholders can resolve issues.  This includes joint resolution between groups that had previously operated independently and the empowerment of stakeholders who have a different frame of reference from the keepers of the status quo (Cummings & Worley, 2005).

Armstrong, (2005) is of the view that change can create instability with disharmony and surprise. The organization’s culture can create solidarity and meaning and can inspire commitment and productivity. The organization’s culture can actively and forcefully work against an organization when change becomes necessary. If not properly managed, can decrease morale, motivation and commitment and create conditions of conflict within an organization. The world is always changing with time, and managers face complex and challenging pressure and opportunities. They must ensure that scare resource are used effectively, and at the same time, find ways of guaranteeing the long-term effectiveness of the organizations for which they work.

As suggested by Collin, (1994), effectiveness must include the ability to identify the right things to do in the future, the right products and service to offer, the appropriate technologies to exploit, the best procedures and structures to introduce, to find, to recruit and retain people with appropriate skills. Effectiveness also requires the ability to adopt in order to achieve these new tasks. Effectiveness therefore entails the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances.

Managers are concerned with value for money development, launch and marketing of new products and services, greater flexibility design, manufacture or service, and less definable issues such as corporate image and identity. Ford & Ford, (2005) and Armstrong, (2005) point out that even if this does not happen voluntarily, change any may be forced upon them by competition and changes in the business, political and social environment.

Managers have to able to introduce and effectively manage change and the commitment of their teams to it. Members of the human resource function have an important role to play as facilitators or ‘change agents’ or ‘paradigm shifters’ in ensuring that change can be managed effectively in the organization.

The objectives of these study therefore was to examine the relationship between human resource development and organizational change, to evaluate the challenges that organizations face while instituting change and to determine the  strategies that organizations can use to make employees more adaptive and receptive to changes.


The Role of Human Resource Development (HRD) in Instituting Change

The literature on human resource development argues that there are two ways in which HRD plays a central role in instituting organizational change. First, by responding to a succession of externally driven changes at an organizational level, and to subsequent shifts in strategic direction, each of which has significant effects on development- orientated practices in the workplace. Second, HRD can have an influential role internally by developing and shaping the appropriate competencies, practices and attitudes that will help the organization deliver its products and services. The key role of HRD is, therefore, to link HRM systems and policies to the competitive capability of the organization (Demers, 2007).

Nevertheless, the resource-based view of human resource management points out that HRM has an important influence on the development of organisational capabilities needed for sustaining organisational change and on the firm’s performance (Smith, 2006).

The HR system has the potential to facilitate or inhibit the development and utilisation of organisational capabilities (Burke, 2008). These capabilities may be expanded, upgraded and maintained through a HR system that emphasises flexibility, productivity, innovation, learning and skill development. Furthermore, HR management can play a significant role in stimulating change and ‘ start a process that  results in a more extensive tapping of the organisation’s hidden reservoir’ (Harvey, 2010). The HR system is an ‘invisible asset’ that creates value when it is so embedded in the operating systems of an organisation that it enhances the firm’s capabilities (Van der Waldt, 2004). Thus, human resource management has an important role to play in building the underlying organisational capabilities required for effectiveness in continuous change.

According to Kotter, (2003) change affects a complex web of interrelated elements within an organization, and trying to introduce change by addressing only one element in isolation, without taking account of its wider context and its impact on the organization as a whole, as well as of the associated HRD activities deriving from that change, is only likely to lead to benefits that cannot be sustained in the long term. Therefore, even if the imperative or the stimulus for change comes from the organization’s outer context (external environment), the success of any subsequent changes depends equally upon the inner context of the organization. This refers to an organization’s capability to change (in the form of leadership, organization structure and culture), the values and attitudes of the workforce, the personalities of key people, the effectiveness of political processes and the adequacy of current competencies and practices to deliver the mission.

HRD areas are closely related to a number of HRM systems and policies that constitute essential underpinning to the HRD activities and programmes: human resource planning determines the organisation’s major human resource needs; performance management systems ensure individual and organisational goals are linked through appraisal and assessment procedures; selection and staffing attempts to match people and their career needs with available jobs and career paths; and reward strategies ensure fairness and constituency in the administration of compensation and benefits. (Adamson, 2006)

Organizational Change and Culture

Change resides at the heart of leadership.  Organizational culture is one of many situational variables that have emerged as pivotal in determining the success of leaders' efforts to implement change initiatives.  The primary objective of organizations is to demonstrate the interaction between organizational culture and change, delineating the ways in which a leader's knowledge of organizational culture affects the process of instituting change, and identifying the stages of the change process at which the interaction between organizational culture and change implementation holds functional significance.  Many existing models of organizational change acknowledge the influence of tacit dimensions of organizational life at one or more stages of the change process (Bate, Khan, & Pye, 2004; Burke, 2008; Demers, 2007). These models reflect differing levels of granularity with respect to the process of effecting organizational change, and each recognizes distinctive stages of change implementation (Denning, 2006).  

Culture is an important driver of all activities and processes of firm. Change in firm can be better managed by altering its culture towards more favorable situation, which is also more compatible with the new system and structure of the firm. The important factors of the firm culture are its employee’s behavior, norms, values, and knowledge, which play an important role in making a durable change that stick. Change in structure, technology, and system of the firm, made it important for its employees to adopt new behavior, more knowledge, and also to improve their norms and values to make employees compatible with new changes and arouse their trust on the firm.

Engineering culture change is becoming an increasingly popular (and lucrative) role for occupational and organizational psychologists. Whilst myriad obstacles to change exist in a typical organization, many writers have attempted to provide the practitioner/manager with advice on how to achieve a successful change in a company’s culture. All of these assume a perspective on culture as a measurable and manageable aspect of an organization. The culture change literature also assumes a direct link between culture and performance, which is as yet merely a hypothesis rather than an established fact. These assumptions need to be taken into consideration when reviewing ‘recipes’ for culture change.

Organizational Change and Structure

The structural change was included in the program by providing clear definitions regarding who is responsible to whom, with parallel accountability. Authorities were more centralized by limiting the power and legitimacy of managers and supervisors, and decision making power has been more centralized towards the owners and two top managers. To increase the managers and supervisors’ span of control, they were made responsible to report to the top managers and owners, regarding the performance of individual employees. New functional teams have been made to decrease work specialization by providing on the job training to all unskilled and less skilled employees, and targets were defined to these teams to encourage team work and to get more output. These changes were very important and helpful for the firm to get the vision right, communicate with the employees in a simple manner (Bate, 2004).

Bate, (2004) argues that all companies must be willing to change, whether in response to operational problems or competition. Sometimes that change means altering your company’s organizational structure. When changing your organizational structure, you’ll most likely either be looking to downsize or to increase your company’s internal size. According to Bate, (2004) the following are some of the key areas to take into consideration during restructuring:-


Downsizing can refer to a company letting go of some of its employees or a company restructuring its organization so that it becomes less top heavy. Changing your organization’s structure to appear smaller and more tight-knit doesn’t require you to terminate anyone, but rather to restructure positions so that the company consists less of managers and more of non managerial positions. Downsizing is usually required when a small business has too many decision makers and not enough people to employ the decisions. As a result, nothing substantial ever gets done and the company appears to be in neutral or even reverse. An example of downsizing is taking two company divisions and blending them together so that there is just one division.

Increasing Size

When a small business grows beyond its current capacity, it may need to change its structure to reflect that growth by increasing its size internally. If you find that both your managers and non managerial employees are overwhelmed, an increase in size may be in order. You may need to create a new department, add new positions or increase the number of supervisors and managers currently employed. If you add more supervisors or managers, promote from within as much as possible. This shows your employees that they will be rewarded for hard work.


Changing your organization’s structure is a major undertaking. For best results, consult high- performing managers, and ask your employees for suggestions. Doing so will accomplish two things: you’ll have more suggestions than you could possibly think of on your own, and you’ll make your workforce feel as though they’re playing a part in a major event in the company’s history. Conduct multiple meetings and think of a thorough list of pros and cons to each structure change that you’re considering. The planning stage will largely affect the outcome of the structure change.


Before overhauling your company’s organizational structure, determine what you want to accomplish by doing so. Creating a list of goals enables you to understand exactly why you need to initiate a structure change, and if the structure change is successful after you implement it. An example of a goal could be to improve the efficiency of making a product by 25 percent.


Both before and after initiating a change in organizational structure, explain the new responsibilities your employees will be expected to take on. If positions changed, new positions were added or employees were promoted or demoted, a thorough explanation of what they're expected to do is necessary.

Organizational Change and Communication

The work by Kotter, (2005) and Ford and Ford, (1995), and other earlier researchers in the field lays an important foundation for current work in the use of communication to effectively promote change within an organization. Deborah Barrett (2003) developed the Strategic Employee Communication model as a tool for organizations to use in assessing the effectiveness of their own communication channels when confronted with the necessity of organizational change.  

The model breaks down effective employee communication into four components which interact in well-functioning companies to reinforce strategic objectives.  One important component is a top and middle level management that is committed to fostering communications “up, down, and across the organization” (Barrett, 2003). The second component is the communications themselves: messages that are both tailored to the audience they are intended for to maximize relevance, and that are consistent with each other and with the overall strategic objectives of the organization. The third component is the mode of communication; it should rely on a variety of media but should take place primarily in person. The final component is a communications team or staff that is positioned in such a way as to be privy to the thinking behind the company’s strategic objectives so that the messages they produce reflect an understanding of the change.  

In companies that have effective communication networks, these four components are continually assessed against the background of progress towards the company’s strategic objectives.  Barrett (2003) makes specific recommendations regarding how the effectiveness of employee communications during times of organizational change may be evaluated, giving an example of a survey instrument to assess perceptions of the current state of communication, suggestions for the development of ‘cascading workshops’ to spread the message of change throughout the organization, and methods of monitoring how well the message of change has spread and been internalized throughout the organization.

A current topic in this area of research is the use of narrative techniques in communication about change. Organizational change is disruptive by nature, and involves the uprooting of old norms that have enabled a company to succeed (or at least survive) thus far, and the adoption of as-yet-untried practices (Denning, 2005). In order for the change to succeed, management and staff must voluntarily and enthusiastically severely disrupt their own established work habits and consent to move into the unknown. Stephen Denning, one of the champions of the use of narrative in change communication, argues that in these situations, the organization’s leaders must employ extraordinary communication techniques to achieve the level of buy-in necessary to make change work.  The use of storytelling to bring reality and substance to a leader’s vision is one way in which change can be made real to management and staff.  

Denning (2006) describes eight different narrative techniques that can be employed in different stages of organizational change.  An example of one of these techniques is the use of ‘springboard stories’, which may be used to spark action and help muster enthusiasm for the change.  Stories used in these situations should be simple and straightforward in content, the goal being to spark the listeners’ imaginations and to get them imagining stories of their own in reference to the change being introduced.  Stories may also be used as devices to deflect or defuse rumors, and as preparation for the future after the change is implemented.  The overall purpose of the narratives is to change the listener’s behavior in such a way that it is aligned with the leader’s objectives.  Denning (2006) warns of the danger of becoming so involved with the crafting and telling of stories that the goal of the narrative is lost.

Organizational Development and Change

Scholars have always conceptualized organizational development in its broadest sense to include the process of change management. For instance, Bradford & Burke (2005) defined OD as a planned change effort involving systematic diagnosis of the total organization that is managed from the top to increase organizational effectiveness and health of the overall system. This approach to managing and developing organiza- tions is also echoed by Boxall and Purcell (2003) who advocated for empowerment through the articulation of the change agent’s values designed to facilitate visioning, organizational learning and problem solving in the interests of a collaborative management of the organization’s culture.

According to Bradford & Burke (2005) OD is a program of planned interventions. Specifically, OD should improve the internal operations of organizations by opening up communication, by decreasing internal destructiveness such as win – lose conflicts, and by increasing creativity in problem solving. OD includes diagnosing the organizations current functioning, planning interventions for improvements, mobilizing resources to put the plan into action and evaluating the effects.

In this regard, organizational development is no longer a preserve for top management alone. Boxall and Purcell (2003) assert that people at all levels, not just top management need to be involved: scanning the environment for critical information, suggesting changes to strategies and programmes to take advantage of environmental shifts and working with others to continuously improve work methods, procedures and evaluating techniques. These are successful ingredients to any OD process.


Thurley, (1975) came up with five approaches to instituting change in organisations:


Implies the imposition of change in crisis situations or when other methods have failed. This is done by the exercise of managerial power without consultation.


This approach recognizes that power is shared between the employer and the employed and change requires negotiations, compromise and agreement before being implemented.

‘Hearts and minds’

Means an all embracing thrust to change the attitudes, values and belief of the whole workforce. This normative approach seeks commitment, and share vision but does not necessarily include involvement or participation.


Is a theoretical approach to the change process. It proceeds sequentially from the analysis and diagnosis of the situations, through the setting of objectives and the design of the change process.

This is the rational analogical approach much advocated by consultants both external and internal. But change seldom proceeds smoothly as this model would suggest. Emotions, power, politics and external pressure mean that the rational approach although it might be the right way to start, is difficult to sustain.


This recognizes that the way mangers behave in practice bear little resemblance to the analytical, theoretical model. The distinction between managerial thought action blurs in practice to the point of invisibility. What managers think is what they do life therefore often results in a ‘ready, aim, fire’ approach to change management. This typical approach to change starts with broad belief that some sort of problem exists, although it may not be well defined. The identification of possible solutions leads to a clarification of the nature of the problem and a shared understanding of a possible optional solution or at least a framework within which solution can be identified.


Lack of visible major crisis: The need for change doesn’t usually happen overnight; it’s a gradual process. The classic metaphor for this is the boiling frog story. Supposedly, if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. I don’t know if it really works with frogs, but I know it does with people. The change comes so slowly that people don’t perceive the real danger. There is an attitude that says, “Well, we’ve made it ok so far.”

Adequate resources to sustain current situation: I was appointed pastor of a church once that was in serious decline. So much so that the members all realized the church would not survive forever. However, they had large reserves in the bank, enough to keep the church going financially for some time. Most of the members were quite elderly and some even told me they were just hoping the church could survive unchanged until they died.

Too much “positive attitude:” Can you be too “positive?” About some things you can. Most leaders, including pastors, know the importance of ”staying positive.” But there can be too much “happy talk.” In an attempt to be optimistic we can undermine the need to realistically evaluate the situation. It’s important to be positive and hopeful, but make sure it’s about the right things.

Low expectations: Many organizations, including churches begin their history with entrepreneurial leadership who have great dreams and huge expectations. These leaders often attract others who share in those expectations. However, over time the organization gets in a rut, results begin to decline, and expectations are lowered.

Inadequate objective evaluation: Most organizations, especially churches, do not do a good job of evaluating themselves. Many times there simply is no evaluation. Christians don’t want to be “critical” of others. In the name of “niceness” we give each other positive evaluations even when the evidence is overwhelming that the job is not getting done.

The blame game: Some would argue we have become a nation of victims. Economist magazine has even picked up on this trend and suggests that this propensity is “an odd combination of ducking responsibility and telling everyone else what to do.” My experience with churches in decline revealed a tremendous inclination for members to blame each other for their problems. This means declining churches almost always have serious conflict which contributes to the present problems while making change even more difficult. Of course, the pastor is always the biggest “fall guy;” there are always one or more scapegoats in an unhealthy organization. In addition, the messenger who brings the bad news, seeking to get people to move from complacency to a sense of urgency, often gets shot.


Beitler (2003) suggest the following as the intervention strategies to change; training, workflow, system configuration, goal feasibility and planning for change.

Training: Insufficient training is one of the most frequent causes of goals not being met. Additional training is one of the easier ways to take corrective action. Even if you are not sure the issue is related to training, enhancing training is always helpful. If indicators show that key areas of information technology use are difficult for staff, you may decide to have everyone participate in a refresher course. Distributing cheat sheets to everyone will be appreciated by all. Ask users to complete a user satisfaction survey that seeks information on which areas they would like additional training. Avoid implying that the need for additional training is because of a deficiency. For those who need additional training, provide a feedback session. Rather than a remedial session, the feedback session provides the organization with information on how well the system is working. Ask staff to show you how they use the system or identify how they think the system are difficult to use. For this group, provide alternative means of training. Repeating what you did previously is not going to work. Instead, consider whether to have training delivered by someone who has a similar job or similar demographic background to provide reinforcement. If you provided training in a classroom initially, consider one-on-one or computer-assisted training. Games can be effective for skill building. Ask staff who seem comfortable with the system to participate in a feedback session. This demonstrate that you are not discriminating among groups of users, and those comfortable with the system can provide good feedback on issues that those having problems may not be able to identify. It also helps to verify that workarounds are not being hidden.

Workflow or Process: New workflows or processes may not work as they were intended. This may be the case if many staff having difficulty, including those you would not have expected to have problems. If so, one of the best strategies is to conduct a formal workflow and process analysis project. Let staff know that the organization want to get to the root cause of the issue which may be in the workflow or process redesign, may be a vendor issue, or may be something else. Engage their support and assistance. Organization may want to identify a user to observe peers and map exactly what they do while using the system. Findings should be reviewed by the entire group to identify potential solutions. Ensure staff does not attempt to revert back to old ways that are not as efficient or effective. Find alternatives that work better with the system as designed. Reward the group for their efforts by special appreciation.

System Configuration: A workflow or process redesign issue often requires adjustments to the new system, in addition to changes in workflow and processes. An error or omission in the system configuration may require correction, including a special customization or modification by the vendor. If the organization have not done the acceptance test after go live, the vendor should be able to address this. If it is later, the fix may be covered by the organization maintenance agreement. If organization needs a unique customization not originally included in the specifications of organization functionality, the organization may have to pay for additional work. In that case, the organization needs to determine what the cost is and what the impact of not doing the customization may be. If incurring the cost is feasible, make the improvement. If not, the organization will need to create a workaround that hopefully will be addressed in the next upgrade the vendor introduces.

Goal Feasibility: If the organization still have problems after training, workflow and process redesign, and system configuration changes, determine whether organization need to adjust the goal or institute change management steps. In some cases, the goal was not realistic and needs to be changed. If organization cannot find another reason for not meeting the goal and believe the organization goals are still feasible, institute change management steps.

Planning for Change: Before embarking on an organizational change initiative, it is wise to carefully plan strategies and anticipate potential problems. One useful method of planning comes from an early researcher on change, Kurt Lewin (1947), who developed the concept of force-field analysis. The term describes analysis that is deceptively simple and can be used to help plan and manage organizational change. Lewin believed that behavior within an organization was a result of the dynamic balance of two opposing forces. Change would only occur when the balance shifted between these forces. Driving forces are those forces which positively affect and enhance the desired change. They may be persons, trends, resources, or information. Opposing them are the restraining forces, which represent the obstacles to the desired change. As these two sets of forces exist within an organization, they create certain equilibrium. That is, if the weights of the driving and restraining forces are relatively equal, then the organization will remain static. As changes occur and affect the weight of either one of the forces, a new balance will occur, and the organization will return to what Lewin called “quasi-stationary equilibrium.” Individuals practicing their vocation in the context of a political organization may intuitively employ these concepts in defining and redefining what change is possible. Judicial educators operate in such a context.

Vogl (2004) posited that force-field analysis assists in planning in two major ways: (a) as a way for individuals to scan their organizational context, brainstorming and predicting potential changes in the environment; and (b) as a tool for implementing change. In the former, force field.

Analysis becomes a method of environmental scanning: Where by organizations keep abreast of impending and potential changes from societal trends and potential budget constraints to staff turnover and purchases of new office equipment. The more change can be anticipated, the better individuals and organizations are prepared to deal with the resulting effects. The second use of force-field analysis is similar, offering a way to systematically examine the potential resources that can be brought to bear on organizational change and the restraining forces that can be anticipated. This advance planning and analysis assists in developing strategies to implement the desired change. (Weed, 2006).

  1. Conclusion

Planning, implementing and coping with change has been and seems to remain one of main challenges facing managers in both public and private sectors. Growing competition, privatization and deregulation across many parts of industry, commerce and the public sector have led many organizations to try to develop in their staff more commercial awareness and more concern for quality.

The process of change encompasses complex situations either to an individual or organization. To bring changes to individuals, helping others to handle change or trying to cope with changes, it is worth taking some time to think about what needs to be changed and how the change is to be implemented.  Any organization change process can be conceived as affecting a move in the equilibrium position towards a desired or newly established position.

For the change to become routinized in the day to day practice in the organization, refreezing the organizational system is important. Here, a number of strategies for refreezing the organizational system are called for in order to reinforce the change process. Such strategies include motivation, rewards and quality working conditions among others. Change is about challenging established values, beliefs, attitudes and norms, and about re-educating employees into the new methods of working or techniques of production.


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Stanley Kipsang Kipkelwon
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