To read this content please select one of the options below:

Arbitrariness, Individuality, and the Absence of Work Identity in Talent Management

Managing Talent: A Critical Appreciation

ISBN: 978-1-83909-094-3, eISBN: 978-1-83909-093-6

Publication date: 2 October 2019


The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once claimed that ‘what can be said at all, can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent’. When the term talent transformed from being a rigid term referring to a specific object, e.g. a coin, in the actual world into an empty signifier referring to multiple objects, e.g. individuality or gifts, in a possible world then talent became something that we could not talk about in a clear and unambiguous way; something that talent management then should have been silent about. The reason is that such an unambiguous and accidental use of the term has led to an arbitrary understanding of talent and subjective bias in talent identification, recruitment, and selection systems and to talent management becoming dysfunctional. Moreover, it has also led to an absence of work identity in talent management that inhibits the individual talent and the talent manager in identifying and talking clearly about the qualification and competencies of the individual as they pertain to the job requirements. This could further enhance subjective bias and reinforce the arbitrary understanding of talent and, in the end, lead to insufficient and ineffective talent management processes.



This research on Work Identity, Talent, and Job Match was partly funded by Region Sjælland VIIRS in 2019 and Talent Lab for Crowdsourcing, Management and Collective Intelligence, Zealand, Denmark.


Adamsen, B. (2019), "Arbitrariness, Individuality, and the Absence of Work Identity in Talent Management", Swailes, S. (Ed.) Managing Talent: A Critical Appreciation (Talent Management), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 7-12.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited