Document Type

Theses, Masters


This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only


Business and Management.

Publication Details

Sucessfully submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) to the Dublin Institute of Technology, 2004.


The growth and popularisation of best practice HRD literature has been a key feature of recent international management research. This study explores this concept within the context of the small firm. In particular, the work sought to analyse the feasibility of conventional best practice HRD, theoretically and empirically, within a small hotel environment. Conventional best practice theory advocates that HRD takes place within a structured framework of formal plans and procedures. It explicitly overlooks and ignores informal and tacit means of training, which have proven to be particularly crucial within small hospitality firms. Yet, many small firms are successful and continue to grow and develop with stable workforces. This suggests that it is something more fundamental that constitutes the true nature of best practice rather than the adoption of a formal, structured approach to HRD activity. Despite the burgeoning, prescriptive literature in the field of best practice HRD, the transition to this new organisational scenario is one that has not been well researched within small organisations. The idiosyncrasies of small firms, in particular their preference for operating informally, exert a unique influence on the nature of HRD in these businesses. It is thus the distinctiveness of the small firm and the unique constraints it faces that provided the interpretive context for considering small firm potential for achieving best practice HRD status. Rather than demonstrating a lack of interest in, or concern for, best practice HRD, analysis of the fieldwork data revealed that small firms may in fact be uncomfortable with the formality and structure inherent in much conventional theory. Hence, the researcher suggests that this may be the reason behind why these businesses rarely exhibit behaviour characteristic of best practice HRD in its conventional sense. The study therefore concludes that formality and structure are incidental to the concept of best practice HRD. Rather than a set of identifiable and visible activities, the true nature of best practice HRD may be found deep within the culture of an organisation. In effect, it isn’t what an organisation does, but why it does it that enables a business to achieve best practice status. It is the beliefs that underpin the visible activities that constitute true best practice HRD.