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HRM & HRD: What’s the Difference?

Drexel University School of Education

Because of the similarity in their names, human resource management and human resource development often leave a lot of people wondering: what is the difference between HRM and HRD? While the complete answer is somewhat complicated, the short version is that HRM is broadly interested in personnel management, while HRD is more narrowly focused on the strategic planning behind creating a thriving organization. Below we’ll explore how that looks in practice in order to examine the difference between HRM & HRD in greater detail.

What Is Human Resource Management (HRM)?

People are the machines that make businesses work; HRM is the practice of optimizing those machines for success. As such, HR managers are involved in almost every issue relating to the people that work at a company, from recruitment to conflict resolution. An HR manager attempts to align their company’s objectives along with the personal objectives of each employee, helping everyone pull in the same direction to achieve more.

What Is Human Resource Development (HRD)?

Human resource development can be viewed as an aspect or subset of HRM, except with much greater emphasis on training and development. The primary objective of HRD is to enhance an organization’s capabilities in relation to present and future demands. That’s achieved by continually sharpening employee capabilities, as well as developing a more productive company culture. In practice, that might mean employee coaching, mentoring, performance management, supervisor training, formal or informal training, and so on.

HRD is critical for any organization that wants the capability to dynamically adapt to a
fast-changing environment, which makes it essential for both large and growing businesses. This kind of big-picture understanding of organizational structures can be learned through programs like the Master of Science in HRD (MSHRD).


The biggest human resource management and human resource development difference comes down to a matter of scope. HRM is operational in nature; it aims at improving the efficiency of employees. In practical terms, that might mean finding the right people to hire, training, and retaining them. It can also improve motivating, assessing performance, monitoring compliance with the law, and a variety of other tasks common to personnel management.

By contrast, HRD is strategic in nature. It helps to engineer and continually refine the structure of an organization. Working in human resource development might mean laying the groundwork for company leaders to sharpen their leadership skills, finding new ways to enhance job commitment, or executing plans to improve company relations. For example, someone working in HRD may determine that their company would be best served by cultivating company culture that encourages employees to use their initiative and take risks.

The difference between HRM & HRD can be difficult to summarize because they share overlapping objectives and methods. But viewing the difference between HRM and HRD in table form can sometimes make things clearer:


  • Job tasks are more day-to-day oriented. (Administration and operations.)
  • Motivates employees with incentives and rewards.
  • More focused on the individual, employee level.
  • Primarily concerned with identifying, hiring, rewarding, and retaining quality employees.


  • Job task are more big-picture oriented. (Strategic planning and execution.)
  • Motivates employees by improving workplace culture.
  • More focused on the organizational/institutional, community, and societal level
  • Primarily plans and executes objectives through training and development, career development, and organization development.

Both can be essential components of organizations of nearly any size, but the difference between personnel management and HRD is far more than semantics. Those who are involved in development require a different skillset, and ultimately spend their time trying to solve different kinds of challenges.

With that in mind, if you’re ready to take the next step towards building a career, take a moment to request more information about how our programs can help you achieve your goal.