Ronald L. Jacobs

Ronald L. Jacobs

Hall of Fame Class of 2013

Ronald L. Jacobs serves as a professor of human resource development and director of the office of international programs in the College of Education, at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He is also professor emeritus of workforce development and education from The Ohio State University. As a scholar, he has authored more than 100 journal articles and book chapters and authored or edited six texts related to human resource development, workplace learning, and structured on-the-job training. As a teacher, he has been responsible for the preparation of more than 300 human resource development practitioners and more than 30 university faculty and researchers of human resource development.

In 1995, the Academy of Human Resource Development honored Jacobs with a prestigious award recognizing his scholarly contributions to human resource development. He has served in leadership capacities in scholarly journals and international professional organizations. He served as associate editor and then editor of Human Resource Development Quarterly, the premier scholarly journal in the HRD field and the only HRD journal listed by the SSCI. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous journals related to human resource development. He was the Shaw Honorary Fellow at Nanyang University in Singapore and holds honorary faculty appointments at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, East China Normal University in Shanghai, and Peking University. Currently, he serves as president elect of the Academy of Human Resource Development and will assume the position of president in 2014.

Jacobs’ most notable achievement has been his work on formal learning in the work setting, most specifically structured on-the-job training (S-OJT). He is the only individual focusing on this fundamental but arguably most effective training approach. He first introduced S-OJT in a research article in 1987, and since that time he has produced a prodigious set of scholarly work about S-OJT and the more general topic of learning in the context of doing. Many of his important scholarly works have focused on determining the financial benefits of S-OJT and comparing those benefits to unstructured OJT and classroom training. Jacobs is the author of Structured on-the-job training: Unleashing employee expertise in the workplace, a text that is used in both university and company settings and has been translated into Arabic, Chinese simplified, Chinese complex, and Korean. Before 1987, the term S-OJT was not used among HRD professionals. Now, S-OJT or some form of it has become one of the most frequently used training approaches.

Jacobs’ work has influenced organizations such as General Motors, Abbott Labs, Emerson Electric, Apple Computers, UL Labs, Hyundai Motor Group, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, and Air China in Beijing among many others. His work has extended the use of S-OJT beyond technical training, including awareness and managerial training. Perhaps most impressively has been the use of S-OJT to address issues at the societal level, including internationally. He has worked with governments and industries in Singapore, Korea, and Malaysia.