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Developing ethnic talent in the Dutch national tax administration: a case study

Folke J. Glastra (Centre for Educational Studies, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands)
Martha Meerman (Centre for Applied Research on Economics & Management (CAREM), The Hogeschool van Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

European Journal of Training and Development

ISSN: 2046-9012

Article publication date: 27 January 2012



The lack of career movement of members of ethnic minority groups in work organizations has been widely documented. The purpose of this paper is to gain insight into conditions for the realization of diversity goals in the case of talent development.


In a case study of management development in the Dutch national tax administration, the practice of fostering vertical mobility of ethnic minority personnel through diversity management has been analysed. The authors make use of theories regarding effective diversity management and career advancement of ethnic minority employees. Data were collected through semi‐structured interviews with 12 participants in the management development course, and a further 25 functionaries involved in the project.


With regard to diversity management as a means of fostering talent development of ethnic minorities, the authors come to the conclusion that key success factors mentioned in the literature such as top level commitment and strategic integration, are insufficient and overrated conditions. More important are “non‐issues” in the formulation of diversity strategies, organizational alignment of relevant organizational players, strategic coherence and organizational culture.

Research limitations/implications

The case study design used in this research facilitates case‐sensitive analysis, but is limited in estimations of validity and explanatory strength of factors mentioned in the literature, as it is in generalizing across organizations.

Practical implications

Interventions aimed at fostering ethnic diversity in talent development should start with precise analysis of cultural and organizational conditions and processes underpinning standard practices of talent and career development, and not only seek strategic integration and top management commitment but arrange for broad‐based organizational alignment.


While there are many theoretical and normative models tracing diversity outcomes to organizational conditions and diversity management strategies, there is a dearth of empirical studies in this field. The case study explores the merits of these models and adds new insights on an empirical basis.



Glastra, F.J. and Meerman, M. (2012), "Developing ethnic talent in the Dutch national tax administration: a case study", European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 105-124.



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