Talent management For what, how and how well? An empirical exploration of talent management in practice

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to identify and explain what happens in practice in TM, in order to contribute to the building of a broader and more balanced theoretical framework for TM in which the impact of the organizational context and its interrelated actors are taken into account.Design/methodology/approach - The empirical data were collected in an explorative, longitudinal study on TM policies and practices in five Dutch university departments.Findings - The two crucial actors in TM - the organization and the talented employee - have a different perception of the intended and actual value of TM. The organization is capable of shaping and implementing a TM system that meets its needs, so from an organizational perspective TM is effective. Since the needs of the talented employees are insufficiently addressed in the intended and actual TM practices, TM has less value for them. Various influence factors at the institutional, organizational and individual level are identified.Research limitations/implications - The study was a first step in opening the "black box" in TM, but several questions on the TM process still remain unanswered. The author therefore encourages more research on the multiple levels in the TM process, and the factors that cause variability.Practical implications - Knowledge of the factors which influence the TM process from strategy to outcomes can help practitioners to build a more effective TM approach.Originality/value - Theoretical approaches from companion academic disciplines are linked to the dominant viewpoints in the TM literature. Moreover, to give counterbalance to the tendency to use universal models to explain TM, this study contextualizes TM. Finally, this study goes beyond a focus on management interests, and investigates to what extent other stakeholders (employees) benefit from TM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalEmployee Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Balanced approach
  • Employee well-being
  • Human resource management
  • Public sector organizations
  • Talent
  • Talent management


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