Downs, Yvonne and Swailes, Stephen (2013) A Capability Approach to talent management. Human Resource Development International, 16 (3). pp. 267-281. ISSN 1367-8868

This paper takes a fresh and radical look at organisational talent management strategies. It offers a critique of some of the prevalent assumptions underpinning certain talent management practices, in particular those fuelled by the narratives of scarcity and metaphors of war. We argue that talent management programmes based on these assumptions ignore important social and ethical dimensions, to the detriment of both organizations and individuals. We offer instead a set of principles proceeding from and informed by Sen’s Capability Approach. Based on the idea of freedoms not resources, the Approach circumvents discourses of scarcity and restores vital social and ethical considerations to ideas about talent management. We also emphasise its versatility and sensitivity to the particular circumstances of individual organisations such that corporate leaders and human resource practitioners might use the principles for a number of practical purposes.

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