Ayetuoma, Oghale (2016) The identification of talent: case studies from UK public & private sectors. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Talent identification (TID) has implications for practice and theory in light of the increasing popularity of talent management (TM). However, because of the diverse ways and settings in which it occurs, the field of TM lacks conceptual and theoretical boundaries concerning what it means and how it is practiced. Most research takes place in large profit-seeking firms and the main focus of this thesis is to explore how talent and TM are conceptualised in public sector organizations. A qualitative case study methodology was used to gain insights from three public sector organizations and one large retail organization in the UK.

The theoretical framework is pitched on multi-levels drawing largely on Institutional Theory with sub-levels being organisational justice, Resource Base View and Human Capital Theories.
Key findings include a more inclusive TM philosophy operating in the retail company in contrast to relatively exclusive approaches in two public organizations and a hybrid approach pursued in a third public organization. A second contribution comprises two new aspects of the definition of ‘talent’ namely people who are ‘inclusive’ in their management approach and the idea of ‘talent’ as the ‘art of the conversation’. Both aspects expand the concept of ‘talent as object’ and are useful to practice and policy by driving knowledge of equality and diversity as well as promoting managerial responsibility and competence in conducting career conversations and in driving talent development which is a generic challenge for managers.

A third contribution to debates around clarifying the boundaries of the meaning of ‘exclusive’ and ‘inclusive’ talent in relation to inclusion and exclusion is typified by local government’s ‘inclusion’ add-on to its ‘exclusive’ talent approach, which enabled identification of talent from everyone in specified targeted grades as well as those from diverse backgrounds who were under-represented in its leadership team. This finding from local government is important to the TM field as other findings suggest that ‘exclusive’ talent implies ‘exclusion’. A fourth contribution from the health sector highlights the importance of evaluating TM programmes in order to drive continuous organisational support and manage the challenges of poor leadership whilst tracking the progression of talent cohorts.

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