Title: Strategic Choices regarding Talent Management in the Flemish Public Sector
Authors: Buttiens, Dorien
Hondeghem, Annie
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Steunpunt Bestuurlijke Organisatie - Slagkrachtige overheid
Abstract: Recently, several authors have concluded that the research on talent management has entered a new stage in its ‘maturing’ process. Where Dries (2013) holds that talent management evolved from an embryonic state to a growing state and is quickly approaching the mature phase of a field of study, Thunissen, Boselie & Fruytier (2013) state in their literature study that the research field has almost attained the stage of infancy ‘with some progress towards adolescense’. The main conclusion of these authors, however, is that the field still lacks in empirical research while a managerialist and unitarist view on talent management is promoted in the prevailing academic literature. In addition, Thunissen, Boselie & Fruytier (2013) acknowledge, from a pluralist point of view, that the approach to talent is not only determined by the management of an organization but also by other stakeholders such as employees, colleagues, peers and society (cfr. Bossuyt & Dries, 2008). Furthermore, it is stated that, in the past decade, talent management research has mainly focused on (large) organizations in a for-profit context (Collings & Mellahi, 2009; Thunissen, Boselie & Fruytier, 2013). Therefore, Vaiman & Collings (2013) rightly call for insights from different cultural and institutional contexts with regard to the meanings of talent and talent management.
The approaches to and conceptualizations of talent and talent management that are being put forth in academic literature today differ significantly from each-other (Lewis & Heckman, 2006; Armstrong, 2006; Thunissen, Boselie & Fruytier, 2013; Gallardo-Gallardo et al., 2013). Aside from these differences in approach and definition, talent management policies are often developed with different goals and HR processes in mind. As Vaiman & Collings have rightly stressed ‘organizations develop talent systems which reflect particular organizational objectives in the context of the strategic constraints which they face’ (Vaiman & Collings, 2013). This means that a contingency perspective is the most suitable option to theoretically incorporate the connection between an organiaation's corporate culture and business strategy and the talent management policy it is adopting. As Thunissen, Boselie & Fuytier (2013) have indicated, mainstream literature on Talent management only rarely pays attention to the influence of such external environments, the so-called 'external fit' (next to the organizational, strategic and internal fit).
This research paper aims to negotiate the above-mentioned concerns by presenting an overall picture of the specific approaches, goals and HR processes of talent management in a public sector context. Specifically, we will present preliminary results of a number of in-depth semi-structured interviews that are being conducted with 19 HR-managers of entities within the Flemish government. These interviews focus on the external fit of the talent management policy (e.g. stakeholder interests, configuration of the organisation). In addition, we pay attention to the process of outlining the parties that are part of the dominant coalition. This dominant coalition is responsible for adjusting the HR-policy within the entities of the Flemish government and potentially integrates the viewpoint of stakeholders. We therefore apply the Contextually based Human Resource Theory (CBHRT) of Paauwe (2004) which tries to explain the choice for an HR policy by looking at several dimensions in the (institutional) environment of an organization and taking into account the influence of stakeholders. In doing so, the organization becomes embedded in its broader institutional environment.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: ER
Appears in Collections:Public Governance Institute

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