Research on human resources training has been shaped by a great number of articles published in recent decades. This study contributes to the literature by examining how this research is built on the basis of different intellectual frameworks and by identifying the relevant references, authors, topics, and journals. With this aim, we used bibliometric techniques to examine over 900 articles published between 1975 and 2016. We observed three publication periods that have shaped the evolution of research in this field. In the journals that have published these articles, a wide range of disciplines have been used to address the topic of human resources. The dominant focus is on US and labor-intensive industries, giving researchers the opportunity to undertake further cross-country and cross-industry studies. By considering human capital and performance, the resource-based view provides theoretical support for the articles through which leading authors have built a core grounding for the topic.
Over the last few decades, technological progress and market evolution have led many companies to redesign their strategies. Many studies state that intangible resources might have provided sustainable competitive advantages in this context (Galbreath, 2005; Hall, 1992, 1993; Lim, Chan, & Dallimore, 2010; Villalonga, 2004). There is some consensus in considering human resources-related intangible assets, grouped as human capital, to be among the best explanatory elements for studying improvements in company performance (Carmeli & Tishler, 2004; Edmans, 2011; Hatch & Dyer, 2004; Liu, van Jaarsveld, Batt, & Frost, 2014; Martín-de-Castro, Delgado-Verde, López-Sáez, & Navas-López, 2011; Rangone, 1999; Villalonga, 2004). Since human capital can be generated and accumulated through training and continuous learning processes (Danvila Del Valle & Sastre Castillo, 2009; Sastre Castillo & Aguilar Pastor, 2003), the literature has sought to understand the relationship between human resources training and human capital generation, and how it may impact performance. This growing interest is soon apparent in the number of articles that endeavor to explore different elements of this relationship. Initially, the bulk of the academic research was aimed at exploring the effects of a combination of human resources practices, and led to a solid line of inquiry (Arthur, 1994; Delaney & Huselid, 1996; Delery & Doty, 1996; Huselid, 1995; Huselid, Jackson, & Schuler, 1997; Ichniowski, Shaw, & Prennushi, 1997; Koch & McGrath, 1996; Pfeffer, 1994). Subsequently, fresh research approaches emerged addressing specific topics, among which the impact of human resources training proved particularly relevant (Aragon-Sanchez, Barba-Aragon, & Sanz-Valle, 2003; Danvila-del-Valle, Sastre-Castillo, & Rodríguez-Duarte, 2007; De Saá-Pérez & Garcia-Falcon, 2002; Lee, Phan, & Chan, 2005; UbedaGarcia, 2005). Given the importance and quantity of the research to emerge, it is essential to examine its characteristics and the intellectual framework on which it is based.