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How do strategic actors think about the value of talent management? Moving from talent practice to the practice of talent

Heba Makram (Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)
Paul Sparrow (Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)
Kay Greasley (Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK)

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance

ISSN: 2051-6614

Article publication date: 7 November 2017

Issue publication date: 22 November 2017

2392

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceptions of strategic actors in multinational organisations and to contribute to our understanding of how multinational companies articulate and define talent management and how – or what – they perceive its value to be.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is based on an empirical research study in which data were collected through 50 in-depth interviews across five multinational companies, conducted at a regional level across ten countries. Participants in the study were strategic actors representing two groups of managers/leaders (HR and talent management system designers and business leaders who are directly involved in the implementation of talent management).

Findings

The absence of a formal talent management definition led to the emergence of different views and interpretations of what it is. It was viewed as a bundle, or set, of management ideologies manifested in all HR-related practices across four key areas: hiring the right talent, performance management, succession planning and development and retention. Performance management acted as the cornerstone. Talent management strategies displayed little participation for both system designers and implementers and distinct patterns of mystification, technologization and concretisation. The language of value was uncommonly used but provoked different ways of thinking about the role and meaning of talent management.

Practical implications

The strategic actors in the talent system continue to see talent management in narrow functional and HR process terms. However, by bundling these HR functions and processes together, it is evident that they can be encouraged to recast their activity in a broader strategic narrative. Borrowing the notions and theories of value and value creation, and investigating talent management through this lens, should help to surface interesting insights into how talent management might be defined in practice, and how the language of value may in future be used to understand what talent management really is.

Originality/value

The global study underpinning this paper attempts to deconstruct the understanding that strategic actors have about talent management from an empirical base. It contributes to the conceptual development of the talent management discourse by revealing the logics being pursued and address the definitional problem currently evidenced in the literature. It also provides direction for future research.

Keywords

Citation

Makram, H., Sparrow, P. and Greasley, K. (2017), "How do strategic actors think about the value of talent management? Moving from talent practice to the practice of talent", Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, Vol. 4 No. 4, pp. 259-378. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOEPP-06-2017-0051

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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