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Sources of satisfaction with high-potential employee programs : A survey of Canadian HR professionals

Igor Kotlyar (Faculty of Business and Information Technology, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Canada)
Leonard Karakowsky (School of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceptions that impact Canadian organizations’ satisfaction with their high-potential (HIPO) identifying practices. More specifically, the paper investigated the perceptual lenses used by HR professionals to view their HIPO identification programs and the elements of such programs that impact satisfaction.


A structural equations modeling technique was used to analyze responses to a national survey (n=219) conducted through a leading Canadian publication for human resource practitioners.


The results reveal that HR professionals form their perceptions of HIPO identification programs on the basis of perceived effectiveness to accurately identify HIPO employees, fairness and motivation. The results further indicate that the degree of formalization of an organization's approach toward identifying HIPOs is the most impactful element for determining satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

First, the study relied on a relatively small sample. Second, the criterion measures used in the study were not continuous. Third, data were collected using self-report questionnaires.

Practical implications

The results suggest that organizations should be primarily concerned with adopting a formal, systematic approach when implementing a HIPO identification process. The paper identifies several other elements that organizations should consider in order to maximize their satisfaction with HIPO programs, as well corresponding mediating perceptual lenses.


While many organizations regard HIPO programs as essential for their future success, most are not satisfied with their initiatives. This study makes an important contribution to the understanding of the sources of satisfaction with such programs. To the knowledge, this study is the first attempt to understand the factors that determine organizations’ satisfaction with their HIPO identification programs and, therefore, it makes a significant contribution to the literature on developing leadership capability through design and implementation of HIPO programs.



This research was partly funded by a research grant from the Human Resources Research Institute (HRRI).


Kotlyar, I. and Karakowsky, L. (2014), "Sources of satisfaction with high-potential employee programs : A survey of Canadian HR professionals", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 33 No. 10, pp. 1035-1056.



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