Postmodernism and HRD theory: Current status and prospects

Heeyoung Han, Peter K. Kuchinke, Andrew David Boulay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With posttraditionalism and postmodern frames of reference firmly established in social theory and many of the applied social sciences, including management, the question of the role of postmodernism in human resource development (HRD) theory needs to be asked. The purpose of the article is to explicate the contribution of postmodernism to HRD, distinguish posttraditionalism from the recently emerged stream of critical perspectives on HRD, and to argue for the contribution of postmodern readings of HRD theory to better understand the complex landscape of contemporary organizations, employees, and learning and development functions. Starting with a historical analysis of the meaning of the Enlightenment, and various modernist perspectives, the article describes the central tenets of postmodern theory and their implications for the theory and practice of HRD and argue for its important role in broadening and enriching the field of HRD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-67
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Resource Development Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Postmodernism
  • Posttraditionalism
  • Social theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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