Soul mates or odd couples? alignment theory and HRD

Stephen Gibb, Mhairi Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


– The purpose of this paper was to test and explore alignment theory as a guiding principle for human resource development (HRD) by performing an empirical study. HRD scholars, professionals and others have adopted or assumed alignment theory to help explain HRD effectiveness.

– Constructs to measure an organisation’s strategic priorities and its HRD practices. A measure of HRD effectiveness was developed. A survey gathered data from 270 employees, managers and HRD staff in a sample of 76 organisations.

– The results show that HRD effectiveness does not vary with alignment as predicted. Forms of partial alignment, or the relations of an “odd couple”, are more strongly associated with HRD effectiveness than high alignment.

Research limitations/implications
– The use and integration of both normative measures (Likert scale) and ipsative measures (ranking) is necessary to capture alignment, but this limits the inferential statistics available to test validity and reliability. Qualitative data on case studies would be useful to explore alignment issues in context and depth.

Practical implications
– Stakeholders in organisations can use the “odd couple” interpretation of alignment as a fresh way to review and explore the opportunities and challenges of managing HRD effectiveness in an era where a narrowing and retrenchment of provisions is occurring and increasing.

– This study provides evidence which raises questions about alignment theory and policies intended to increase alignment. It suggests in the case of HRD, an alternative perspective that validates partial alignment can support effective HRD provisions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-301
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Training and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2014


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