Tuesday, 11 August 2009

More on Talent Management from the Academy

I'm doing a new chapter with a practitioner colleague of mine for a book on Global Talent Management edited by Hugh Scullion and Dave Collings, so it was with great interest I attended probably the best session for me so far. This was chaired by Paul Sparrow and summarised by Chris Brewster, with some top class presentations in between, all of which will feature in a special issue of the Journal of World Business later this year.

I'm not going to try to summarise the papers as some can be found on various websites, including the opening literature review by Randall Schuler from Rutgers and Ibraiz Tarique. Of the four papers presented two were of most interest for me. The first was by Hugh Scullion, Paul Sparrow and Elaine Farndale on the the role of Corporate HR departments in global talent management. They argued that what they did and how effective they were depended to a great extent on the degree of corporate control or decentralisation of the organization, or in our terms, how the organization addressed the integration-responsiveness logics, which maps onto my earlier posts on this topic on Negative Capabilities. In trying to develop a framework for helping academics and practitioners think more systematically about global talent management, I think they have come up with something of real interest which is both empirically based and shows important connections among the four roles that corporate HR departments play or should play. These four roles are:

1. Champions of Process - systems monitors, or in our terms guardians of corporate integration
2. Guardians of Culture - in our terms, ensuring integration and legitimacy through spreading the message of corporate values
3. Managers of Internal Receptivity - preparing the organization and its business units to facilitate and accept mobility among leaders, and
4. Managers of Networks of Leaders and Corporate Intelligence

They argued employer branding was the binding tie between 1 and 2, with which I readily agree. We've discussed this in earlier posts as employer branding following a logic of similarity and legitimacy through help build and disseminate shared values. However, there are a couple of problems with the framework, one of which was picked up by Paul Evans, who pointed out the corporate HQ perspective they had on global talent management, a view evidenced by the frequent mention that decentralised multinationals experienced the greatest problems in implementing global talent management. This, of course, depends on where you are standing, because the interests of business units are sometimes in conflict with the interests of the corporation as a whole. And, as Paul Evans rightly mentioned, Web 2.0 technology is facilitating a much greater bottom up approach to talent management, which is not in the gift of corporate HQ to control. I would also add that our discussion of employer branding needing to reflect authenticity and privileging the local (see earlier post) also implies a perspective that global talent management is not something that corporate HR departments should necessarily control in the way they often do - in other words, decentralisation of some decisions on talent is not always a problem, rather the reverse.

So, Paul, Hugh and Elaine, if you read this blog(I know we discussed that following the questions you may have to rethink your model a little) you may want to take into account some of these points in revisting your model. But even if you didn't it is certainly a help for HR practitioners in multinationals in giving them a useful framework to think about their jobs in relation to talent management.

A second paper from some Finnish and Swedish colleagues presented by Kristina Makela which was also very interesting examined the question of who made it into the talent pool and why. Apart from the obvious reasons connected with performance appraisal, which was a rear view mirror, 'on-line' search', they found three explanations, which were more forward looking, 'off-line' reasons - cultural and institutional distance (the less that this was between corporate HQ and individuals, the more likely they were selected), 'homophilly' (the more like the existing talent pool, the more likely to be chosen) and network centrality (were they key nodes in the organizational networks). Some worrying findings here!

No comments: