Talent Management: A Decade of Developments

Cover of Talent Management: A Decade of Developments


Table of contents

(10 chapters)


Pages i-xvi
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In this chapter, I propose an integrative framework for theorizing and empiricizing about talent management, based on the notion of “talent philosophies.” I believe that current debates about whether talent management should be inclusive or exclusive create the risk that our field will become fragmented, thereby undermining its social-scientific legitimacy. Nonetheless, this debate is absolutely correct in identifying the tensions between inclusive and exclusive approaches to talent management as a phenomenon. This, however, creates issues for talent management as a construct for scientific inquiry, as we need clear definitions and measures to create a cumulative body of research as a community. I propose that the solution lies in an expansion of our vocabulary as talent management researchers and identify four constructs that can help us structure and categorize our collective work: giftedness, talent, potential, and strength. Each of these constructs map logically onto different talent philosophies and talent management practices. In establishing “unity in diversity,” I believe talent management could finally make the transition into a more mature field of academic inquiry – although clearly phenomenon driven – characterized in equal parts by construct clarity, rigor, and relevance.


Conducting relevant research is a cornerstone of good academic practice. However, considering academics and practitioners’ divergent paradigms and social systems, it is challenging to undertake impactful research. Indeed, the research–practice gap remains an essential issue in human resource management research. There have been several calls for translating research for dissemination, making it more societally relevant, and beginning conversations and activities that move beyond the confines of the academic context. In fact, research on talent management (TM) has been accused of lagging in offering organizations vision and direction. Understanding the perceived causes and potential solutions for relevant problems is a real need to successfully narrow the TM research–practice gap. Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to offer an in-depth discussion on the research–practice gap in TM. To do so, we first identify the critical dimensions of research relevance that will help us to ground our discussion regarding the applicability of current academic TM research. By doing this, we seek to understand better what is happening with TM research, which should then help provide insights into how its practical impact can be improved.


Despite considerable development in our understanding of potential over the past two decades, we argue that the failure to adequately conceptualize and manage “potential” in the context of talent management has significantly limited the ability of organizations to meet their talent needs. In this chapter, we begin by defining the concept of potential, calling attention to the need to separate it from performance. We also address the need to specify the target for judgments of potential (e.g., management level, specific roles), along with the identification of constructs to measure. The chapter highlights two contextual variables – gender and culture, including translations of language that describe relevant constructs – that may impact judgments of potential. This chapter concludes by summarizing what we know and by identifying a variety of future directions for research on the important construct of potential.


In this chapter, the authors consider the progress and present state of star scholarship, while planting seeds for future inquiry where we believe fruitful opportunities await – both in furthering our understanding of stars and in more effectively situating this understanding in the talent management literature. Following a reflection on the multiple conceptualizations of stars that have been proposed and employed in star research in recent years, we suggest that the most useful conceptualization of stars is one that focuses simply on stars’ exceptional contributions to value creation – allowing the specific mechanisms of value creation to vary, as they do, across contexts. Next, the authors review recent progress in star scholarship – highlighting advances in scholarship on both the favorable and unfavorable influences of stars in organizations, as well as recent research shedding light on the professional experiences of stars as employees. The authors then turn their attention to future scholarship, specifically noting opportunities for research in two veins: how stars’ motivations, contributions, and experiences may evolve over the course of their careers and how stars and their broader work environments are best managed. Finally, we share thoughts on ways in which scholars can think about increasing the practical value of research on stars, primarily by integrating insights from research on stars with ideas rooted more squarely in the talent management literature which focuses on the deliberate identification, support, and management of individuals deemed to be equipped to create exceptional value in organizations.


This chapter presents a holistic view of dynamic external macro environments and their impact on internal organizational strategies. It suggests how events, and particularly major crises at the global or national level, affect organizational responses. Specifically, the authors submit that organizations adapt their strategy in line with the pressures they face from the external environment. Consequently, the day-to-day operations inside the organization change, and managers find themselves faced with new challenges in terms of how they manage their talent. By exploring critical roles that human resource (HR) professionals can play in talent management, the authors delineate several ways in which the HR department can help organizations to react to these external pressures, supporting managers in ensuring that employee behavior and values are aligned with the new organizational strategy. The objective of this chapter is not only to reflect on the HR professionals and their role in helping to manage organizational talent, as their organizations navigate the dynamic macro context, but also to stimulate further research in this field.


In this chapter, the authors review talent management in the research university sector, business schools in particular. The authors adopt an “exclusive” perspective on talent management, assuming that some scholars contribute disproportionately to organizational performance. The authors identify two particular groups of scholars likely to be the target of exclusive talent management practices in business schools: (i) faculty on a tenure track career path and (ii) “star” tenured faculty with exceptionally strong track records. Focusing on these current and potential future “stars,” the authors review and discuss talent management practices related to talent identification, recruitment and selection, performance management, talent development, benefits and rewards, and tenure, promotion, and retention. In the extant literature, these topics have been mostly examined in the general university environment and less so in the business school context. This is somewhat problematic given that business schools have their own special characteristics. Moreover, some of the reviewed topics – especially talent development – have received only marginal scholarly interest thus far. Based on this literature review, and by drawing on their own experience working in different roles in academia, the authors highlight some of the gaps in the current body of knowledge and propose an agenda for future research.


The highly unpredictable, complex, and dynamic business environment forces companies to innovate constantly. One organizational response to coping with environmental pressures is organizational ambidexterity, that is, the ability to pursue simultaneously the exploitation of existing capabilities and the exploration of new opportunities. It has an impact on the way of working, and consequently, organizations need to reevaluate their talent strategies. With this conceptual contribution, we first provide a fresh view on talent and talent management (TM) by suggesting an ambidextrous TM approach, including novel TM practices that have been rather neglected in the so far dominant traditional TM approach. It centers on the system-controlling element of an ambidextrous mindset. Second, in a theory-based framework, we explain how dynamic TM capabilities (hybrid, dual, and ambidextrous TM), which represent processes for deploying, developing, and shaping talent, can contribute to gaining competitive advantages in various ambidextrous structures reflecting the complexity and dynamism of and within human resource (HR) ecosystems. The authors advance the under-researched process perspective on TM by using the lenses of the HR ecosystems discussion, insights from a dynamic view on the person–environment fit, and dynamic capabilities. The authors conclude with a broad agenda for future research in TM in dynamic environments.


Pages 177-181
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Cover of Talent Management: A Decade of Developments
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Book series
Talent Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited