The politics of evaluation for human resource development
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While centering on the impact of power and politics embedded in the evaluation of training programs, the purpose of this study was to understand how power and interests are negotiated by stakeholders in determining the merit and worth of a recurring training program. Three research questions guided this inquiry: 1) What are the interests of the stakeholders affected by the training program? 2) How do power relations among the stakeholders affect the evaluation process? and 3) How do power relations among the stakeholders affect the evaluation outcomes? To answer these questions, a qualitative case study of the managerial leadership development program of a Korean insurance company was designed. Eight, open-ended interviews with the stakeholders of the program were conducted as the primary source of data. Three sets of findings resulting from constant comparative analysis indicated that various power relations among stakeholders and the structural power and politics of the host organization shaped both the evaluation process and the outcomes of the training program. The findings reveal that the asymmetrical relationship of power among the stakeholders was structured by the organizational hierarchical system through which positions and role status of the stakeholders signaled their different capacity to influence the training program evaluation. The HRD practitioners of the case held control throughout the evaluation, and their dominant power was maintained and reproduced by other stakeholders’ recognition of their expertise in training and development area. However, due to the structural relationship between the HRD unit and the corporate management, the HRD practitioners perceived themselves as the marginalized. The findings also showed that such unequal power relations were sustained in the evaluation mostly by stakeholders’ self-regulation of their conduct in terms of norms, standards, and expectations about one’s roles. Finally, this study found in spite of immense criticism, the use of end-of-course participant surveys in HRD practice could be traced to their meaning as a political bargaining tool.