Opening the black box of talent management in the public sector Public-sector influence on HR differentiation into strategic target groups in a Dutch municipality
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Purpose –Talent management (TM) is one of the most popular themes in contemporary human resource management (HRM). Most organisations, including public sector organisations, use practices that can be classified as talent management. Previous studies found public sector characteristics that seem at odds with employee differentiating TM practices. This leads to the expectation that the public-sector context might shape TM practices. Hence, the central aim of this study is to uncover the influence of the public-sector context on talent management practices. This is done by studying the TM practices of recruitment, selection, development, retention and deployment in two cases in one public sector organisation. Research design – A large Dutch municipality is selected as the public-sector research setting. Within this organisation two cases are selected based on a priori data that revealed the presence of HR differentiating talent management practices: a university graduate trainee program and a program for project managers within one department. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 respondents. Data were analysed based on open and theoretical coding. Findings – The findings indicate that the public sector does -to some extent- shape the talent management practices in the cases. This influence is found in the predominantly inclusive view of talent management, the importance of public service motivation in the recruitment of talents, the cultural bias limiting intended recruitment and selection practices, the internal problems with retention due to equality questions and lack of financial resources, and the unwillingness to perceive the project managers pool as a differentiating, exclusive program. Originality/value – This study is among the first to focus solely on the influence of the public-sector context on talent management practices. This makes it a stepping stone for future research on talent management in the public sector.