Handley, Janet (2012) Talent management: the construction of talent. Working Paper. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield. (Unpublished)

The focal research project will consider the nature and lived experience of ‘talent management’, a concept which has ascended the ranks of human resource management (HRM) practice over the last decade, through a gender and communications lens. The phrase ‘talent management’, however, is neither simple nor uncontentious to define or explain. Moreover, whilst the concept is much cited by HRM practitioners, there is a relative paucity of credible academic literature in the field.

This paper will evaluate the nature and meaning of ‘talent management’, specifically the two opposing claims that it is a revolutionary approach to ensuring a good supply of ‘talent’ (itself crucial to organisational success) as opposed to the stance that it is not a new HRM approach at all but merely a case of re-packaging and re-labelling of existing approaches. The position adopted here is that talent management embraces many of the traditional aspects of HRM, but within a talent ‘culture’. Moreover, it is suggested that a strategic and contingent perspective of the concept and its operationalisation is warranted and, most significantly, that talent management policy and practice at the very least influences the lived experience of managers and the construction of ‘talent’.

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