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Maximising the effectiveness of talent pools: a review of case study literature

Jane Yarnall (Skills Evolution Ltd, Betchworth, UK)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




The purpose of this paper is to examine the potential implications of selecting and developing discrete pools of talent within organizations and to answer the question “If talent is singled out as a separate group of high‐potential individuals in organizations, what measures could be put in place to help ensure their effectiveness?”


The paper reviews the literature on talent pools and examines existing case study research, drawing on an analysis of over 50 companies. This analysis was used to draw out aspects which impact the effectiveness of talent pools at particular points in time; from the initial establishment of pool members through to the ongoing maintenance of an established talent pool.


Findings indicate that during the establishment phase, ensuring appropriate segmentation of the pool and limiting bias in the nomination process were particularly significant. The ongoing maintenance of a successful talent pool was also found to be a challenge from both an organizational and an individual perspective. Specific factors that were identified were dealing with changing business needs; changing individual circumstances; providing development opportunities; maintaining senior commitment; and defining success measures.

Practical implications

The research identifies a number of critical factors that practitioners may need to address in the process of establishing and maintaining talent pools, such as pool segmentation, work‐life balance and the impact on the psychological contract.


The ongoing maintenance of talent pools is rarely discussed in the literature and the recommendations for practice will be relevant for all human resource and organizational development practitioners.



Yarnall, J. (2011), "Maximising the effectiveness of talent pools: a review of case study literature", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 510-526.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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