Four Major Theories of Training and Development

Competitive advantage is referred to that ability of an organization which is not possessed by the other organizations and it is a competitive advantage which leads the organization to the top positions. There are many organizations in the world who are leading the markets by gaining competitive advantage in different fields of their business activities. One of the way in which a firm can attain a competitive advantage over the competitors is by building a force of superior human resource. Now the question arises that how this force of superior human resource can be build. The answer lies in a very important function of human resource management i.e. training and development. It has been observed that the employees or labor working in a competitive environment of market always welcome the training and development programs which can enhance their skills and knowledge. Now days every job holder understands that to sustain and grow in the career it is very important to polish their skills. It is not that time where one degree or diploma is sufficient for the whole life. Employees actively participate in several programs which are organized by their organization and it has been observed that in some organization employee’s demand from their human resource department to arrange such training and development programs. Successful organization of today has built their human resource work force over the passage of time. There is no doubt that this work force is a highly valuable asset for any organization and the only possible way to build this workforce is training and development. There are several theories which emphasize on the importance of training and development in the organization and provides different alternative methods for training and development. A discussion of four major theories of training and development is given below.

Theory of Reinforcement 

This theory emphasizes on the learning behavior of a person and suggests that the learner will repeat that behavior which is attached with a positive outcome or result. Skinner an economist of behaviorist school of thought proposed the theory of reinforcement and suggested that the training and development programs should be aligned with the organizational objectives and a positive outcome should be expected with such training and development programs. Further elaborating this concept suggested in reinforcement theory, it can be argued that there are several techniques available in human resource practices which can be associated with the training and development programs and the required suggestion by this theory can be fulfilled. Different types of rewards in the form of bonuses, salary raises, promotion and awarding of certificate after the training program can be associated with the training and development activities and these rewards will definitely generate a positive outcome. If this is done by an organization then according to the Skinner’s theory of reinforcement the trainer i.e. the employee will show more interest in the training and development programs held by the organization.

Theory of Learning Types

The theory presented by Gagne emphasized on learning of intellectual skills. These are such skills which are found rare among the persons. He suggested by different learning types in his theory and each learning type contains some external and internal conditions. The five categories of learning which Gagne defined in his theory include intellectual skills, verbal information, attitudes, cognitive strategies and motor skills.

Theory of Experiential Learning

Experiential and cognitive types of learning are differentiated by experiential theory of learning presented by C. Rogers. According to Rogers, the wants and needs of the learner are addressed by this type of learning. Experience gives the person a maturity and increases the learning power along with the knowledge. Due to the personal involvement, the learner is able to conduct a self-evaluation test, which allows him to understand the effect of learning on his/her attitude.

Theory of Social Learning

Social theory presents a new view of learning i.e. social. According to the presenter of this theory, Albert Bandura, direct reinforcement cannot address all types of learning. Here by direct enforcement means the training and development programs that is organized to enhance the skills. According to this theory such programs are not address all learning types as there are some social elements which cannot be taught. Those elements are learned by the leaner from his/her surroundings. Such type of learning is called observational learning and this learning is associated with the understanding of different human behaviors. The first type of learning defined in this theory is through observation. In an organization the environment and the surroundings plays a very important role. The environment should be very professional and the surroundings should be in such a way that the people (employees) learn from them. This theory also suggests that it is not necessary that the behavior is changed after learning something. It is expected that a person’s behavior changes after learning something, but it is not in all cases. Furthermore the theory also explains about the mental states which play a vital role in learning process. If the mental status of the person is negative regarding any learning activity then he will not take part in that learning process and even if he is forced to do so, he will not gain any positivity from that process. In organizational training programs the mental state can be made positive regarding the training and development programs by associating the rewards and benefits with such programs which will motivate the employees and help to build a positive mental state. The case company also follow this theory as it allows the employees to learn from the surrounding and provides an environment where they can learn from their supervisors/managers and coworkers.