• Paul Kearns' column (7 December), although provocative in tone, lacks substance. His claim that the IPD has only recently recognised the importance of relating the professional body of knowledge to the wider business context is incredible.
The IPD professional education scheme has, for a long time incorporated mainstream business issues. As an example, IPD students learn to assess and cope with situations of ever increasing turbulence and uncertainty.
For many years a major focus of the institute's activity has been how people (professionals) can add most value to the development of people and the performance of organisations. Let me remind you that it was the IPD which first introduced business strategists such as Michael Porter, Gary Hamel, CK Prahalad and Sumantra Ghoshal to HR audiences and went on to relate their thinking to the practice of people management.
The particular project, "People Management and Business Performance" which Kearns singles out for criticism involves a long-standing investigation involving academic research and practical evidence. If Kearns had read the material relating to this project in any depth he would know that a primary aim is to address the very issues of causality and practitioner relevance which he raises.
All research undertaken by the IPD comprises theory and practice. Practitioners who have a high level of input into all projects, both in steering investigations and in the design of re- search tools and outcomes, favour the case study approach. Is Kearns saying theory is irrelevant? If we are to build our knowledge and understanding in this crucial area we must have sound linkages between both theoretical and empirical data.
We must also find different ways of evaluating the contribution people make to organisations that go beyond short-term results and cost control. If we do not, people will continue to be seen as low value, expendable assets and this will not be in anyone's long-term interest.
It is of concern that Kearns should comment without properly evaluating the work and evidence available. Constructive criticism and debate is always welcome and enhances the work. Unfounded, opinionated sniping helps no one.
Letter of the week
The real value of HR to business
• Regarding the ongoing