Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Claretha Hughes

Committee Member

Bobbie Biggs

Second Committee Member

Song Yang


History, Human Resource Development, Philosophy


The history of Human Resource Development (HRD) is the history of human organizational growth and development. A review of the history of western civilization, with particular focus on the Industrial Revolution to the modern era, demonstrates a distinct interaction between the predominant philosophy of the time, theory, and practice. A better understanding of seminal events in HRD's history thus provides insight into informing philosophies of HRD and the assumptions upon which current HRD theory and practice rest. Research was conducted to explore this interplay between philosophy, theory, and practice. The research was thematic and historical in nature, including the evaluation of primary and secondary source material from the period of 3000 B. C. to the modern era. Results of the historical evaluation demonstrated that seminal events in history play a significant role in both the development of HRD as a discipline and its current practice. Key informing philosophies, as well as the underlying assumptions of those philosophies, were identified. Additionally, an evaluation of the historical record demonstrated the influence of psychology as a source of theory and practice as well as a discipline whose philosophical history closely mirrors HRD. Three key pillars of HRD philosophy were identified as holding most prominent influence: empiricism, humanism, and structuralism. The underlying assumptions of those philosophies were also explored. Recommendations were then made on the establishment of metatheoretical evaluation within HRD and the instillation of critical thinking as a key skill set and competency of the HRD theorist and practitioner.