Adult development towards what end? A philosophical analysis of the concept as reflected in the research, theory, and practice of human resource development

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Abstract

The research, theory, and practice of the Human Resource Development field are based on often unspoken assumptions about the concept of adult development. Critical examination of these assumptions is useful for researchers and practitioners because of the possibility of more deliberate choices and improved scholarship and professional practice. Three alternative views of adult development serve to distinguish competing schools of thought, each rooted in different philosophical and political traditions. The person-centered view aims at self-realization of the individual and is grounded in humanistic psychology and liberalism; the production-centered view focuses on organizational goals and is based on behaviorism and libertarianism; and the definition of development as principled problem-solving is grounded in cognitive psychology, progressivism, and pragmatism. Each view serves as a root construct for a specific orientation toward the role and function of the profession. By highlighting the differences between these views and their relative strengths and shortcomings, the author seeks to advance the theoretical foundation of the field and contribute to more reasoned theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-162
Number of pages15
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Volume49
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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