One Layer of Talent Management

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Cadigan, Francoise
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The talent management literature remains rife with confusion stemming in part from misdefinitions of the field and in part from overlapping and conflicting messages within the literature. In the research, I parsed down the definition of talent and talent management into two recurring themes – pivotal positions and pivotal people. I used the theory of lay beliefs, which describe people’s inherent beliefs about the fixedness (i.e., entity theorists) vs. malleability (i.e., incremental theorists) of human attributes to investigate my second category of pivotal people and introduce a model of talent identification – one component of talent management and a central and critical issue. In study 1, I used an experiment to examine the effects of performance (high vs. average), potential (high vs. average), and managers’ level of incremental theory on managers’ ratings and rankings about which employees to include in exclusive talent programs. I found that performance and potential positively predicted talent ratings, but that incremental theory did not predict the relationships between either performance or potential and talent ratings, nor did they affect how managers ranked the different employee profiles. In study 2, I used two surveys to examine perceived organizational lay beliefs’ influence on managers’ talent identification and high potential decisions and how they interacted with managers’ lay beliefs. I found that the perceived level of organizational incremental theory positively predicted the value placed on potential compared to performance, but that individual incremental theory had no effect. I also found that individual incremental theory positively predicted the value placed on learning agility compared to ability, and this relationship became stronger as organizations were perceived to hold more incremental theories. Overall, I found partial support for the theory of lay beliefs in organizational contexts. Managers seemed to make talent decisions about the value of performance compared to potential based on the perceived lay theories of their organizations rather than on their own lay theories. Although there are limitations with student samples and both studies being hypothetical in nature, I recommend that researchers continue to examine the influence of managers’ and organizations’ lay beliefs on talent identification decisions including their respective outcomes.
Talent Management; High performance; High potential; Talent Identification