Sabbatical Post – The ADDIE Model, Practitioners and Academics Living Apart

Having crossed over the line between HRM practice and academia I am conscious more than ever of how these two communities live very much apart. I’m sure the way it’s supposed to work is that the practice ‘surfaces’ its concerns and the academia takes up the challenge ultimately informing practice of what its concerns should  be. Or something like that. However, during my time as a practitioner I never felt assisted by Irish academics helping me to understand my challenges as a manager and now that I’m in academia I’m often puzzled at how oblivious Practice is regarding the work that is going on in Irish universities.

A good example of this is the ADDIE model. This model is a staple approach to identifying training needs and implementing and evaluating training. Developed (perhaps) by the American military in the 1960′s it sequences the steps of the above process into ANALYSIS, DESIGN, DEVELOP, IMPLEMENT, and EVALUATE. Those I’ve spoken to in practice swear by it. Those in academia describe is as a ‘mere taxonomy’ and not a model at all. Practice is using a model that has never been validated by research. The details of the debate are not as important as the fact that these two communities, who need each other a lot, have adopted such starkly different approaches to something so fundamental.

This has all happened before, I hear you say. In the 90′s the academics cut the Kirkpatrick Model to shreds with giants such as Alliger and Janak, and Ed. Holton slicing away merrilly. Practice responded by ignoring the sound of the scissors. Even today, practitioner conferences on HRM and HRD will have something based on Kirkpatrick’s work on the programme. So the schism over ADDIE is nothing new.

On the other hand maybe it’s time for change. And I would urge myself and my academic colleagues to take up a challenge to engage more with practice on these fundamental issues. Engaged scholarship, which is executed well, is scarcely a risky proposition. There is much, however, to be gained from applying our rigour to the concerns of practice. We gain immediately from the relevance that society bestows upon us. Nowhere in my crystal ball do I see future Governments and Departments of Education becoming less interfering regarding the relevance of universities in general and business schools in particular. Always better to choose to do something before it becomes compulsory.