This research charts the evolution of human resource development (HRD) in Australian organisations over a critical 13-year period and analyses the effect of the company size, industry sector and ownership pattern on HRD practices. The analysis is based on standardised data extracted from 793 responses to the 1996, 1999 and 2008—09 iterations of the CRANET Australia surveys. Seven sub-indices and one overall index of HRD were constructed to monitor the level of ‘sophistication’ over time in different aspects of HRD practice and explore the ‘performance’ versus ‘learning’ dichotomy established in the HRD literature. The analysis revealed an aggregate decrease in HRD sophistication across all organisational types but divergent movement within the seven sub-indices, with decrease in ‘learning’ oriented practices and an increase in ‘performance’ oriented practices. Only limited differences were found between public and private sector organisations. Higher levels of HRD sophistication were present in larger companies and industry sector had a significant effect on a majority of HRD practices.