The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of how talent management (TM) unfolds in practice in a public organization.
An exploratory single case study was conducted of a Swedish public hospital, based on interviews, observations and documents.
The findings illustrate that despite a highly egalitarian and collectivist context, the hospital adopted an exclusive approach to TM, and a talent was not considered or identified through formal performance appraisals, but through informal criteria. The rationale behind this approach is influenced by the surrounding context, including the implementation of an innovative and strategically important practice, and the highly professionalized context.
The study offered a rich view of how TM unfolds in practice, which may not always be possible using large sample, survey studies; however, it limited the generalizability.
The study points to important issues when designing TM.
The paper addresses two main shortcomings in the TM literature: the under-researched context of public organizations and the lack of contextual awareness. The empirically driven analysis constitutes an important step for further theory development regarding exclusive/inclusive approaches in TM.
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