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Definition and Evolutionary Perspective

Global talent management was widely accepted by human resource practitioners and consulting firms worldwide. Building on their excellent work, academics recently started to examine the talent management phenomena more closely in last few years [4].

Although there is a growing consensus that global talent management is an emerging area, there is no consensus regarding the exact definition or boundaries of it [5].

According to a literature review made by Tarique and Schuler [5], global talent management “is about a systematically utilizing IHRM activities to attract, develop, and retain individuals with high levels of human capital (e.g., competency, personality, motivation) consist with the strategic directions of the multinational enterprise in a dynamic, highly competitive, and global environment” [5, p. 124].

The international mobility of key people, with the intention of developing some individual or organizational business areas, skills or needs, is a crucial part of a talent management strategy.

Managing a global workforce is a big challenge, because it goes beyond what concerns to the geographical and cultural boundaries. One of the main research topics in this field is the lack of talent [5]. According to the Manpower Talent Shortage Survey [6], “Despite the continuing caution exercised by many companies amid going economic uncertainty, a substantial portion of employers in the U.S. and worldwide identify a lack of available skilled talent and a continuing drag on business performance.” According to the same source, the most difficult positions to fill in the Americas include technicians, sales representatives, and skilled trade workers, in the Asia-Pacific include sales representatives, technicians and laborers, in and Europe, Middle East, and Africa include skilled trade workers, technicians, and engineers.

Despite how talent management is defined, this is an emerging field which has been creating new roles and jobs. A recent study by Heidrick and Struggles [7] notes that we are beginning to see the steady emergence of a new discipline of strategic talent management, led by a Head of Talent or similarly titled role. “The cumulative impact of global demographic trends, combined with ongoing economic uncertainty and aggravated by a critical skills shortage, creates a powerful talent triple whammy facing business. As a response, companies worldwide are bringing talent, mostly leadership talent, to the top of the agenda and are assigning responsibility for aligning business and talent imperatives” [7, p. 2].

However, Guthridge et al.[8] identified many barriers to the use of HR policies and practices of global talent management initiatives such as the following:

  • • The fact that senior managers do not spend enough time on Talent Management maybe because they think there are more pressing things to be concerned with;
  • • Organizational structures that inhibit collaboration and the sharing of resources across boundaries, which include based regions, products, or functions;
  • • Middle and front-line managers who are not sufficiently involved in or responsible for employees’ careers because they see these kind of activities as less important than managing the business;
  • • Managers feeling uncomfortable on evaluating and acknowledging performance differences among employees;
  • • Managers at all levels who are not sufficiently involved in the formulation of the talent management strategy and therefore have a limited sense of ownership and understanding of global talent management actions.
  • • HR departments that lack the right competencies to address the global talent management challenges effectively.

Sculion and Collings [9] emphasized that HR policies and practices must be mutually supportive and internally consistent. These also need to fit the specific firm characteristics, such as management leadership, values, vision, culture, size, and type of industry. More specifically, it would be expected from them in their HR policies and practices selection to:

  • • Identify the specific global talent challenges that are confronting them;
  • • Evaluate their rigor and sophistication levels;
  • • Determine firm characteristics that are likely to be more supportive of certain HR policies and practices;
  • • Continually monitor the drivers and shapers of the firm’s global talent challenges, facilitating the changes needed to implement them.

Therefore, global talent challenges emerge in the context of a dynamic environment. There are significant HR strategic business issues that ensure just the right amount of the right talent and motivation, at the right place, at the right price, during all economic and financials ups and downs, balancing the workforce with the needs of the firm in the short and in the long term [10]. In this context, significant Talent Challenges have emerged, specifically those associated with the need to reduce and remove talent in order to lower the costs of operations; locate and relocate the operations around the world; and obtain equally competence talent anywhere in the world at lower wages.

According to the mentioned authors, the major forces and shapers of the global talent challenges are as follows:

  • (1) Globalization. Globalization is a concept that people use when referring to different phenomena. For this issue, it has been giving particular relevance to expanse of world trade, intensified competition among firms, the potential to reach more customers around the world, and the set of people worldwide who now compose a global labor market.
  • (2) Demographic Changes. In the next years, with the exception of India, societies will be “greyer” than Japan, currently the country with the oldest population, and businesses worldwide will face a “greying” workforce. At this point, few companies offer lifelong opportunities to keep skills current. On the other hand, there a big issue with the Generation Y’ expectations: The lack of developing opportunities is the major reason given by Generation Y employees for leaving a company. Corporate Universities are turning their attention to attracting and developing the members of different generations [11].

While the populations of many developed countries are aging and shrinking in size, the populations of developing and emerging economies are expanding and getting younger [12]. There are significant variations in demographics characteristics by age and by region all around the world that multinational organizations need to consider in locating and relocating their operations internationally [13].

  • (3) Demand for workers with competencies and motivation. New jobs are still being created that require higher levels of technical competencies. For the existing jobs, there is a growing need for employees more adapted to change and under new conditions that require the development of additional competencies [14]. The need for highly motivated employees is likely to remain strong as well. Highly motivated or highly engaged employees, with high levels of productivity, are able to contribute for more to the firm than those who are less motivated [15].
  • (4) Supply of workers with competencies and motivation. In developed economies, such as Western Europe, North America, and Japan, there is an expected shortage of managerial competencies, especially as the economy recovers.

In this context, Tarique and Schuler [5] suggested that global talent management, as any emerging field, requires much exploration to improve the clarity of definitions, frameworks, and models. According to them, there are several topical areas for future research to better understand the global talent management including:

  • • What it means to be a bridge field;
  • • Using more theoretical frameworks;
  • • Identifying more specific differences;
  • • Moving beyond descriptive statistics;
  • • Developing the notion of “systems” in global talent management systems;
  • • Implementing global talent management in different country contexts; and
  • • Developing exist strategies for talent.
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