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Putting the individual and context back into national human resource development research: A systematic review and research agenda

Garavan, Thomas; Wang, Jia; Nolan, Ciara; Lai, Yanqing; O'Brien, Fergal; Darcy, Colette; Matthews-Smith, Gerardine; McLean, Gary


Thomas Garavan

Jia Wang

Ciara Nolan

Yanqing Lai

Fergal O'Brien

Colette Darcy

Gary McLean


Conceptualizations of NHRD emphasise that it is an ongoing process of developing the individual shaped by context. However, the extant literature has focused primarily on describing and evaluating NHRD policies and interventions in different countries with limited consideration of NHRD across the lifespan and the interaction of individual life-stage with context. Applying ecological systems theory (EST) and a lifespan development (LSD) perspective we present a systematic review (SR) of the NHRD literature based on 310 sources. We identify key themes and gaps in research across the lifespan and at distinct levels of the ecological system. We build on this review to suggest future research informed by both EST and LSD perspectives. We propose a future research agenda focused on a number of key areas including: the developing individual as the primary focus of NHRD; the dynamic relationship between NHRD microsystems and how this evolves over time; the exosystem and macrosystem, which provide the context of the NHRD development experience for the individual over their lifespan; and the imperatives of directing research attention to top-down and bottom-up influences within the ecological system. We also propose three methodological innovations to address several of the questions raised by our review drawing on national archive databases, the use of historical methods, and a focus on longitudinal data analysis. Finally, we highlight the practical implications of our analysis for ecosystem and microsystem NHRD actors.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jul 1, 2022
Online Publication Date Jul 14, 2022
Publication Date 2023-01
Deposit Date Aug 9, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 15, 2023
Print ISSN 1460-8545
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 152-175
Public URL


Putting The Individual And Context Back Into National Human Resource Development Research: A Systematic Review And Research Agenda (accepted version) (333 Kb)

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