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Title: Talent Management in the Flemish public sector. Positioning the Talent Management approach of the Flemish government
Authors: Buttiens, Dorien
Hondeghem, Annie #
Issue Date: Sep-2012
Conference: European Group for Public Administration edition:13 location:Bergen, Norway date:5-8 September 2012
Abstract: The popularity of Talent Management in academic and practice‐oriented literature can be explained by several trends in society. First, a shortage of talented employees on the labour market is emerging, caused by the wave of retirement of the baby boom generation. Second, the new generation of employees entering the labour market, expects other things concerning their career and work situation, compared to the older generation (Hiltrop, 1995, pp. 289‐290; Anderson & Schalk, 1998, p. 642). Third, the situation of unstable economic climate forces organizations to work efficiently with a constrained budget. In the last decennium, Talent Management has been put forward as a solution for these various challenges.
Although Talent Management is an all‐round concept used in many different contexts, a common definition is nonexisting.
Thunissen, Fruytier and Boselie (2011, p. 11) state that a universal definition of Talent Management cannot be given because it depends on context (nature of work, sector, labour market, customer‐oriented services,… )1. Moreover, Devine & Powell (2008) state that the strategic aspirations or the goals of an organization shape the approach to and the implementation of Talent Management. This corresponds with the view of Nishii et al. (2008) who state that the goals of an organization must be kept in mind when looking for the effect of an HRpolicy.
In the paper, a theoretical framework will be developed in which the several approaches to Talent Management are presented and situated in the field of strategic human resource management (and sustainable HRM).
Depending on the organization’s strategic approach of Talent Management, a different design of Talent management can be expected. A distinction that in literature has been made is between an elitist and a diversity approach (Bossuyt & Dries, 2008). In the elitist approach, Talent Management focuses on high performing or high potential employees. This can be linked with the business case approach to diversity. Knies (2012) states that HRactions
in the business case approach, are often aimed at groups of employees that can achieve the most added value for the organization. HR‐policy in this case aims for example to guarantee leadership positions in the organization. The diversity approach in Talent management focuses on each employee and is based on the assumption that each individual can be valuable for the organization. The organization’s performance is not the only objective, but also the individual’s well‐being and societal objectives are considered as important. This reflects a balanced approach of HRM (Beer et al., 1984; Paauwe, 2004; Boselie, 2010). Talent management in this paper is thus seen as a specific way of designing HR‐measures that, dependent on the strategy of an organization, can be inclusive (a diversity approach) or exclusive (an elitist approach).
This theoretical framework will be applied to analyze the vision and practice of Talent management in the Flemish
Government. The context thus is the public sector and the demands the Flemish Government has to deal with, like
for example: ‘doing more with less’, transparency, clearly motivated HR‐decisions based on fixed procedures,… .
The research methods used are: a document analysis and semi‐structured interviews with two civil servants. The
document analysis captures general policy documents as well as policy documents with regard to the personnel
policies of the Flemish Government. The interviewed civil servants were chosen because they are involved in the
development of a vision on Talent management in the Flemish Government.
A preliminary analysis of the data shows that the Flemish Government takes a diversity approach in developing a
Talent Management view. This reflects the characteristics of a public sector institution in which several stakeholders have to be taken into account.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Public Governance Institute
# (joint) last author

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