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HRM: Theory Vs Experience


It is fitting to start by saying that experience is not theory. There is a strongly held misconception that theories are divorced from reality -- what many fail to understand is that theories aren't postulated in abstraction (rather they are drawn from reality) and that as the world becomes more complex and advanced so do existing theories become less potent in explaining things hence the need for reviews, expansions and updates. 

Human Resource Management (HRM) practitioners must realize that having lengthy experience does not amount to or serve as a substitute for theories. Theories aren't perfect nonetheless they serve as descriptive, explanatory and predictive resources for the discharge of professional duties while experiences serve as verifications of those theories. Succinctly, theories are improved with feedback from experiences while experiences are deepened and made more meaningful with refinements of theories -- this is how professions grow. 

To assume that the HRM profession would grow merely by relying on experience without any recourse to theories is illogical. The converse holds true too. Immanuel Kant said: 'Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play'. 

Both are mutually reinforcing. There cannot be a coordinated profession if no recourse is made to theory. There cannot be advancements in theories if experiences are not looked at from time to time.  There cannot be meaningful conversations in conferences, structured curriculum for teaching aspiring professionals and practising professionals if there are no theories that organize information in these different subject areas and issues  that make up the scope of HRM. There can be no advancement in practice if all was left to experience which could really be faulty at times. In my opinion it should not be theory vs experience rather it should be theory and experience. What do you think? 

Image Credit: Google Images 


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