to the website of the World Federation of People Management Associations (WFPMA)

In July 1998 the WFPMA commissioned a major new research study to find out whether or not a common core of competencies exists for human resource management around the world, and therefore whether it is possible to define an HR professional; part of the project flowing from this would be to try to encapsulate the learning and development necessary to achieve and maintain the standards implicit in that definition (or definitions in the event of significant regional differences).

Led by a steering group drawn from WFPMA nominees, the project was co-ordinated by the UK's Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, working with Cranfield School of Management.

Taking account of work on this subject that had already been carried out in various countries and drawing on close links with WFPMA member associations and other contacts, the study examined routes into the human resource field; education, training and career paths; and definitions of standards and accreditation. More specifically, the project has addressed:

  • How national associations certify the attainment of professional standards; and the learning and development routes that can be pursued to keep those competencies up to date;
  • Whether there are generic standards of professionalism in human resource management common to all or many countries; and, if so, what professional standards might be appropriate to certify the attainment of those competencies;
  • Whether standards can be expressed in such a way that would be helpful to emerging professional associations wishing to develop HR professionalism in their country.

For the purpose of this research, the term 'HR professional' is used to describe those who work in an employing organisation, or as a consultant, resource-provider, academic or educator, whose primary professional focus is on the management and development of people for the broad world of employment.

For further details of the project see WorldLink, October 1998, January 2000, and July 2000. For the full and final report of the project, click here.


A follow-up study to check the use made of the competencies report and gauge developments since its publication was conducted at the end of 2004 and published in March 2005. For this report, click here