The emergence of knowledge as the human resource management’s (HRM) key resource will certainly necessitate radically new management theories and practices. HRM will assume a distinctive role, since employees will make major contributions in productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction. The HRM strategies in the 21st century have to focus on a better individual-organisation interface and greater emphasis on organisational effectiveness than on personal success. Now that the employee ratio is decreasing and information technology is taking over administrative tasks, human resource development (HRD) no longer does this. Major strategic challenges such as reorganisations, mergers, technology advances, and globalisation require an HRD perspective. There is also a massive culture shift going on as organisations move from hierarchies to networks. There is an urgent need to bring accountability and power to everyone in an organisation. © 2002 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.