What's Your Talent Philosophy? Talent as Construct Versus Talent as Phenomenon
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In this chapter, I propose an integrative framework for theorizing and empiricizing about talent management, based on the notion of “talent philosophies.” I believe that current debates about whether talent management should be inclusive or exclusive create the risk that our field will become fragmented, thereby undermining its social-scientific legitimacy. Nonetheless, this debate is absolutely correct in identifying the tensions between inclusive and exclusive approaches to talent management as a phenomenon. This, however, creates issues for talent management as a construct for scientific inquiry, as we need clear definitions and measures to create a cumulative body of research as a community. I propose that the solution lies in an expansion of our vocabulary as talent management researchers and identify four constructs that can help us structure and categorize our collective work: giftedness, talent, potential, and strength. Each of these constructs map logically onto different talent philosophies and talent management practices. In establishing “unity in diversity,” I believe talent management could finally make the transition into a more mature field of academic inquiry – although clearly phenomenon driven – characterized in equal parts by construct clarity, rigor, and relevance.