Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Talent Management as a Core Source of Innovation and Social Development in Higher Education

By Atheer Abdullah Mohammed, Abdul Hafeez-Baig and Raj Gururajan

Submitted: May 28th 2018Reviewed: September 7th 2018Published: November 27th 2018

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.81377

Downloaded: 886


In the new millennium, talent management (TM) has become more important and has received attention from institutions that seek a foundation on the map institutions of excellence. Higher education institutions are represented by their possession of highly qualified employees who are able to show initiative, creativity and excellence in performance. Those individuals are the core resources of innovation and social development. It is apparent that there is a great competition among institutions in this modern technology era, driving an increase in knowledgeable employees along with vast market changes. Consequently, academic institutions have started to rethink their procedures and policies to achieve better attraction, development and retention of those employees. Therefore, this chapter aims to improve the theoretical and pragmatic comprehension of TM as an essential source of innovative and educational development. Through pragmatic use of elements of previous research approaches combined with a comprehensive qualitative study, this study concludes that higher education institutions are aware of innovation sources that are currently used in managing talent in their divisions and faculties. These were talent attraction, talent development, and talent retention. Both empirical research represented by the case study in the higher education sector and previous research confirm that the best practices of TM are considered as attraction, development and retention of talent.


  • talent management
  • talent attraction
  • talent development
  • talent retention
  • higher education

1. Introduction

The new-millennium has witnessed the appearance of an infinite number of developments in strategic administration-thinking as a result of the “information technology revolution”, and the appearance of the term “knowledge economy”, which looks at the institution’s excellence not only in terms of quantitative or qualitative productivity, but also in terms of the quality of knowledge that exists in its human assets, represented as talent. Therefore, management as a contemporary science has changed its language to focus on mental abilities where talented individuals institute a strategic resource in an institution [1]. Talent is a primary source of competitive advantage for institutions [2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. As a result, there are many practical benefits for institutions that focus on talents [5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. For example, talent assists in increasing rankings and profits of higher education institutions [8, 9]. To explain, universities’ rankings are aligned with the talent of high-performing employees [8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. These talented individuals contribute significantly to a university’s performance by attracting new students, conducting high-quality teaching and learning, conducting high-level research and securing funds for further research [8, 9, 10, 11, 12].

Over the past two decades, there has been a dramatic increase in TM studies [13]. TM has become a common term since the McKinsey group first mentioned it in their 1997 report ‘The War for Talent[14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21]. Then, Michaels et al. [22] discussed TM in more detail in their book [19, 23, 24]. Since then, the topic has attracted enthusiastic interest from scholars in various fields and sectors [17, 21]. In the higher education sector as an industry, TM as a primary component of strategic human resource management can improve a university’s performance over the long term by advancing its strategy and enact it through its talented individuals [12, 25, 26]. Thus, TM is a key for institutional success by making it possible for institutional systems to achieve higher goals [27, 28, 29, 30]. Consequently, it is considered a core resource of innovation and social development [12, 21].

Nonetheless, new research in the strategic human resource area is urgently needed and rapidly expanding, as institutions have encountered significant challenges associated with TM [21, 26, 31]. These key challenges are faced by higher education institutions which need to give high-quality assurance in their technical expertise and activities [32, 33, 34, 35, 36] and their ability to be a leading exporter of international education [35, 36, 37, 38]. Bradley [12] has suggested that a key solution to meet these challenges in Australian higher education could be the application of TM programmes. Such programmes include processes such as attraction, development and retention of talent, which are keys to growth and success of higher education institutions within their industry [12, 26, 39, 40, 41].

The review of the chapter is covered into five sections. The introduction of the chapter is provided in Section 1. Next, the TM theory and a brief explanation of this concept are provided. It discusses the conceptual identity and intellectual frameworks of TM. Talent management practices (TMPs) are reviewed and addressed in Section 3. Here, the practices that are included in the review are attraction, development and retention of talent. Section 4 discusses the innovations of TM in higher education. Finally, Section 5 concludes this chapter.


2. Method

The authors adopted both theoretical and practical approaches. Theoretically, a systematic review that includes empirical and theoretical studies on TM which have been published between 2007 and 2017 in scholarly research has been adopted. A total of 35 academic works were involved in the review [42]. Practically, the authors carried out an empirical qualitative study in six Australian universities to understand the best processes that are currently used in managing talent in the higher education sector [43, 44]. It comprised qualitative multi-method studies including (i) a brainstorming session to develop sets of questions, (ii) a focus group session to define the scope of individual interviews and (iii) individual interviews to obtain an in-depth understanding on the subject [45, 46, 47]. Qualitative methods were enough to comprehend the best practices of innovation that are currently utilised in managing talent in the higher education environment. The sample consisted of 6 participants for brainstorming, 11 in the focus group session and 6 individual interviews.

3. The conception of talent management

In today’s business world, talents are considered strategic resources for meeting institutional demand for increased competitiveness [4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 41, 48, 49]. Prior to reviewing TM, it is essential to describe the term talent [21, 50]. Iles et al. [14], Barron [51], Blass [52], Li and Devos [53], Cannon and McGee [54], Tansley et al. [55], Festing and Schäfer [56] and Naim et al. [57] all introduce talent as high-performing employees who have been considered to have significantly contributed to the progress of an organisation and its future development. Others like Rudhumbu and Maphosa [39], Harstad [58] and Sparrow and Makram [59] consider these as employees who are capable to add value by increasing organisational production. Having experience, mastery, knowledge, the skills, ability and the potential for development are all considered by Silzer and Church [60], Gümüş et al. [61], Beardwell and Thompson [62], Silzer and Dowell [63] and D’Annunzio-Green [64] as indications of talent.

Similarly, Baublyte [65] and Macfarlane et al. [66] have defined talent as those who exhibit leadership qualities that play a pivotal function within the organisation and show superior behaviour. Some other characteristics ascribed to the talent of human capital are that it is beneficial, unique [67, 68] and a major institutional resource [69, 70]. According to Scaringella and Malaeb [31], Ross [71] and Butter et al. [72], talent is an innate ability to learn things in an effortless and skilful manner inherent in these intelligent and creative individuals. Other researchers, such as Murongazvombo [73], Chuai [74], Kravtsova [75], Kramer et al. [76] and Kaliannan et al. [77], have defined talent as an essential driver and success element for an institution both short and long term [21].

As a concept, in the higher education environment, TM as a primary component of the strategic human resource management can improve a university’s performance over the long term by understanding the strategy enacted through its talented individuals [12, 25, 26]. This is a key for institutional success by making it possible for institutional systems to achieve higher goals [27, 28, 29, 30]. In the literature, there are six common perspectives on TM, which are [21] (1) process, (2) strategic, (3) developmental, (4) cultural, (5) competitive and (6) human resource planning perspectives[53, 65, 78].

4. The process perspective

This was defined by Iles et al. [14], Blass [52] and Cappelli [79], for whom TM appears as a complex set of processes that operate in large institutions so that the institutions and individuals within them can meet current and future needs with overall benefits for the institution. In a similar vein, Dessler [80], Tansley et al. [81], Blackman and Kennedy [82] and Ali et al. [83] portray the TM process as needing full integration, in order to become a standard practice to attract individuals who have high potential for creative development and to retain them in order to generate a unique value to the institution. In other words, it is a specific method for attracting and retaining abilities and essential knowledge for the future [80, 81, 82, 83].

5. The strategic perspective

TM is a strategy to attract the right talent and provide workers with potential contributions via strategic workforce planning and high-quality development experiences that build institutional capabilities [59, 84]. In the same way, it is a strategic function for identifying talent gaps and managing succession planning, along with attracting [85], selecting, motivating, developing and maintaining highly qualified individuals [86, 87]. TM can be useful in empowering employees to understand their essential capabilities and to produce an effective climate which professionally empowers them to underpin, capture and develop these talents into individual productivity [59, 71]. Therefore, TM should inform the selection of high-performance incumbents to fill positions [88, 89].


6. The developmental perspective

TM is a strategic priority for business institutions and is perceived as a crucial driver in developing institutional performance [90, 91]. Similarly, Cannon and McGee [54], Silzer and Dowell [63] and Moczydłowska [92] explain TM as a set of procedures, programmes and activities applied to highly qualified employees who are characterised by high potential in their development in order to achieve an institution’s goals now and in the future. The reason for this is that, if an institution fails to provide talented development and training, it may lose available talent [93].

7. The competitive perspective

As perceived by Beamond et al. [94], Tomany [95] and Meyers and Van Woerkom [96], TM is an engine of sustainable competitive advantage, which is tricky to simulate, is rare and valuable and cannot be replaced by competitors. From the same perspective, Iles et al. [14], Al Haidari [50], Gelens et al. [68], Collings and Mellahi [88], Waheed et al. [97] and Yap [98] define it as activities, processes and development of skills which require individuals to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage and institutional success by providing competent and highly qualified individuals who are more capable than competitors in other institutions.

8. The human resource planning perspective

Cui et al. [17], Beardwell and Thompson [62], Cappelli [79], Nissler [99] and Lewis and Heckman [100] introduce TM as a tool of human resource planning to develop a plan to meet institutional human resource needs, in order to attract employees with the appropriate skills in the appropriate areas of work. This involves a number of procedures designed to attract, develop and retain extremely talented staff to meet institutional needs. In other words, TM anticipates the necessity for human resources and then builds a strategy to meet it.

9. The cultural perspective

According to this perspective, TM focuses on social and cultural contexts of available human resources within a range of qualities [101]. These qualities include innate ability, intelligence and creative skills [31, 71, 72, 102]. Proponents of this perspective propose that individuals are successful only when they have sufficient talent and believe that the success of institutional work will be followed by their own success [101, 103]. Table 1 shows a summary of perspectives on TM.

No.The studyCountrySector/industryMethodTMPs
Talent selectionTalent engagementTalent attraction (recruitment)Talent developmentLeadership developmentSuccession planningTalent acquisitionSupport and trainingTalent retentionCompensation and rewardTalent identificationSkills gap analysisWorkforce and talent planningPerformance managementCareer managementTalent evaluation
1[109]South AfricaICTQuantitative******
3[111]South AfricaHotelQuantitative*******
4[112]IndiaBusiness servicesQuantitative*****
9[117]Czech RepublicPrivateQuantitative***
10[118]Several European countriesPrivateQualitative***
12[75]Czech RepublicPrivateQualitative********
13[120]Sweden and RomaniaPrivateQuantitative****
14[95]United Kingdom (UK)PrivateMixed******
24[50]Arab Gulf countriesBankingMixed***
34[135]South AfricaHigher educationQualitative***
35[26]MalaysiaHigher educationQualitative***
Percentage (%) of research studies2011.468.568.55.722.85.711.471.431.4205.75.78.544.414.2

Table 1.

The TMPs according to the opinions of authors and researchers.

Source: Prepared by the researcher based on the above sources.

To conclude this section, the scope of TM is restricted to the strategic perspective for three reasons. First of all, the strategic perspective includes all the perspectives above [104]. Secondly, this perspective outlines how an institution can efficiently implement TMPs [104, 105]. Finally, TM is a function of attraction, development and retention processes which contribute strategically to an institution’s success [105, 106, 107].


10. Talent management practices: a critical review

In the twenty-first century, TM has become more important and has received attention from institutions that seek a foothold in the institutional map of excellence. High-performing institutions are identifiable by their talented individuals who are able to show initiative, creativity and excellence in performance [27, 28, 29]. In higher education environments where high-performing organisations are identifiable by their talented individuals who are able to show initiative, creativity and excellence in performance. TMPs assist higher education institutions regarding such as the development of the talent pool, improvement of the productivity of individuals, support for effective planning and improvement of human resource management [40, 41]. Besides, attraction, development and retention of talent are strategically the keys to growth and success of higher education institutions [12]. The reason for this is that competitive advantage can be maintained by attracting, developing and retaining highly qualified individuals in key positions [3, 41, 49, 108]. Therefore, a majority of institutions have started to rethink their procedures and policies to achieve better acquisition and retention of individual talents. It is obvious that there is a strong competition between institutions in a technology-driven modern era, which has caused an increase in knowledge workers along with vast market changes [27, 28, 29]. In the scope of TM literature, several studies through the period 2007–2017 have shown in Table 1.

As shown in Table 1, it is obvious that many scholars have focused their empirical and theoretical attention on attraction, retention, and development of talent. Of all articles reviewed, talent retention is the dominant process with 25 articles (68.5%) of TMPs research have concentrated on, followed by both talent attraction and development with 68.5 per cent (24 articles), and talent attraction with 22 articles (73.3%). The least attention was paid to the TMPs of leadership development, talent acquisition, skills gap analysis, workforce and talent planning and performance management with two or three articles each.

Overall, as mentioned in the method section of this chapter, the authors carried out an empirical qualitative study in six Australian universities to understand the best processes that are currently used in managing talent in the higher education sector [43, 44]. This study explored the best TMPs of innovation in the aforementioned sector. (1) Talent attraction (social domain and institutional excellence), (2) talent development (performance management, coaching talent and leadership development) and (3) talent retention (benchmarking, job satisfaction, nonmonetary rewards, employee empowerment and employee motivation) were selected as best processes of TM in the higher education sector.

10.1 Talent attraction

In modern knowledge-based institutions, talent attraction is one of the most essential success elements [105, 136, 137]. Higher education institutions, for example, are strongly based on the attraction of experienced staff to fill key positions [9, 12, 36]. They primarily aim to attract talented candidates from the internal or external labour market [130]. However, there are some difficulties and challenges in attracting qualified staff to higher education institutions [9, 36]. These issues include safety and security, workloads [36] and conflicting opinions [9]. To meet these challenges, Beardwell and Thompson [62] highlight the following approaches that have been identified as effective for attracting talent:

  • The job-based approach: this includes writing a comprehensive description of a job which is filled by an employee, and then creates the desired person specification, which is based on that job description. However, this approach is inflexible because the changes that can occur in the main tasks or list of responsibilities of the main job are not taken into consideration.

  • The person-based approach: this focuses on identifying individual attitudes sought by an institution. It can be adopted in order to recruit individuals to fill a vacant job and participate in achieving the broader business targets of the institution.

  • The competency-based approach: this tries to recruit people by, for example, specifications, knowledge, experiences, skills and personal values that are attached to a job and used as a guide for an individual. However, this approach can encounter practical implementation difficulties and therefore may not achieve the institution’s goals.

Talent attraction can be divided into two sub-variables: (1) social domain and (2) institutional excellence. Throughout the chapter, the term ‘social domain’ is used to refer to support in difficult times, social innovation and work-life balance. An institution can attract more talented employees by providing them with social support in critical areas, for example, motherhood and monetary difficulties [138]. In regard to work-life balance, the last decade has seen a growing trend towards family-friendly workplaces [139]. Thompson [137] defines work-life balance as a personal perspective that is related to compatibility for talented employees inside and outside their workplace. Socialising with colleagues, lifestyle opportunities or appropriate locations are determinant factors for attracting new talented individuals, because they add work-life balance to institutions, which in turn contributes increasingly to their productivity [98, 136, 137, 139].

In the literature, the term ‘institutional excellence’ is generally understood to mean a strong tool and a key driver that assists institutions to achieve their strategic and operational aims [140, 141]. Excellent institutions adopt managerial attitudes that focus on total quality in all internal processes to attract high-quality individuals [53, 142]. As previously stated, the qualitative study explores a number of excellence-related factors that contribute to attracting new talents to higher education institutions. These factors include talent branding, the reputation of an institutions, institutional culture, institutional climate and work environment.

Talent branding as a key element of talent attraction enables institutions to manage talent of employees through an institutions’ identity, loyalty and culture, as a means of attracting high-potential individuals [53, 142, 143, 144, 145]. Institutional branding depends on the available resources for employees’ recruitment. In order to achieve financial and time goals, institutions have to consider particular resources in terms of where to obtain the profile required. In order to be excellent and successful in attracting talent, institutions need to follow appropriate strategies, adopt ethical principles in each phase of their current practices and build a strong and distinctive reputation in the labour market to be competitive [74, 123]. There are two different strategies for recruiting talent to an institution [53, 80, 146, 147]:

(1) Internal brands: An institution relies on its candidates. This will decrease the risks connected with the recruitment process and will save costs. An institution may know or can observe a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the fact that current employees are possibly more committed to the institution. In particular, avoiding external advertisements enables institutions to save costs of external channels. However, Dessler [80] argues that rejected applicants may become discontented, and it can also waste time since often the manager already knows whom they want to hire.

(2) External brands: Institutions cannot always get all the employees they need from their current staff and therefore need to tap into external sources to find candidates [53, 80]. However, online recruitment channels may encourage excessive numbers of applications to reach a limited audience (online job search), or the process is seen as too impersonal, discouraging some candidates [62, 80]. Therefore, institutions should develop a strong and distinguishable employer brand, which links institutional values to the employee management strategy and the institution’s brand [62, 121]. This can attract the best possible talent by promoting a unique combination of mental and practical benefits in the work place [62, 121].

Indeed, an institution that has excellence in its activities builds a good reputation, which then allows it to attract the best talents [125, 145, 148, 149]. This view is supported by Horseman [10] and Cruz-Castro et al. [150] who write that reputation and university ranking are key elements of institutional excellence to attract talented individuals. Furthermore, a desirable institutional climate is a determinant of attracting new talented employees [125, 137, 151]. Similarly, a supportive institutional culture with innovation can be an excellence-related factor for attracting qualified employees [140]. In regard to consideration of the work environment, this is a driving force for attracting talent [98, 125]. Working environment factors such as improved health, stress reduction, autonomy, job security and satisfaction within an institution are considered determining aspects for attracting talent to the institution [136, 137, 139, 151].

In summary, it has been demonstrated in this review that talent attraction is a basic factor of innovation and success in various sectors in general and in the higher education sector specifically, because of the key role that talent attraction plays in the functioning of higher education institutions. Thus, talent attraction in educational institutions is a function of social domain and institutional excellence.

10.2 Talent development

In a perfect business world, because of strong competition, institutions should develop their talented employees to enable them to become productive more rapidly [152]. Hence, the talent development process needs to be embedded within staffing progress and be regarded as a successful measure for institutions to improve the skills of their highly qualified individual staff members [40, 74, 142, 153]. Talent development is considered a critical resource of differentiation and sustainable competitive advantage [62, 153]. It is strategically important for an institution’s success [ 108, 153, 154]. For instance, the development of talent working within higher education institution also assists in retaining talented employees [153], which in turn assists in increasing university rankings and profits [8, 9]. University rankings are aligned with the talent of high-performing employees, and these talented individuals contribute significantly to a university’s performance by recruiting new students, conducting professional teaching, conducting high-level research and securing research funding [8, 9, 10, 11, 12].

The development process of talent involves three elements: (1) performance management, (2) coaching talent and (3) leadership development.

  1. Performance management—As one of the key processes of talent development, this assists in filling the gap between the current and planned performances of highly qualified employees [153, 154, 155, 156]. It evaluates the current performance of talents to assist them in identifying their competency level and then developing their capabilities [125, 130]. Through this process, training needs can be identified to develop talent [156, 157]. Institutions should offer their experienced staff appropriate development strategies to improve their strong points and hence improve their total performance, including particular competencies, strengthening their motivation and boosting their career development [40, 158, 159].

  2. Coaching talent—This is the second sub-variable of talent development. The existing literature on coaching talent is extensive and focuses on learning and development of talent [160, 161]. Even though coaching talent can be a significant tool for achieving high talent development through learning skills and creating knowledge, the difficulty in transforming these skills from outside an institution has been a disadvantage [142, 162]. Coaching talent through internal job rotation can develop individual knowledge and experience from different departments and divisions within an institution [163, 164, 165]. Training and mentoring programmes are valuable tools for developing talent [160, 166, 167]. These programmes can be offered online [130] and can also include face-to-face learning and teaching courses for academic staff [168] to gain required knowledge and skills [130, 168]. In addition, leading institutions provide their talented employees with career development opportunities [98, 104, 161, 169].

  3. Leadership development—This is a key process of talent development [153]. It assists institutions in achieving overall institutional sustainability [160, 169, 170]. Effective and developed leadership is a key element of institutional sustainability [171]. Institutional sustainability through leadership assists institutions to strategically generate intrinsic values and wellbeing for all stakeholders [171]. The leadership development process includes ‘coaching, multi-source feedback, stretch assignments, mentoring, international job assignments and formal development programmes’ [169], as well as succession planning [164, 172, 173]. In academic institutions, high-level leadership provides talented individuals with sufficient opportunities in regard to functional planning programmes [12, 154]. Conversely, a lack of formalised institutional leadership training could negatively affect employees from achieving their advancement potential [166]. Therefore, the leadership development process enables leaders to obtain the skills and competencies necessary to be effective through role assignment leadership programmes [169, 170].

In brief, it has been shown in this review that talent development is a critical source of innovation and sustainable competitive priority in various sectors in general and in the higher education sector specifically. It assists in retaining highly qualified employees and increasing university rankings and profits. Thus, talent development in academic institutions is a function of performance management, coaching talent and leadership development.

10.3 Talent retention

Talent retention becomes a progressively worthwhile process of building an institution’s ability to acquire and maintain a competitive advantage [118, 174, 175]. It is focused on retaining talent among an institution’s staff so they remain with an institution [130]. Due to fierce competition to attract talent among leading institutions in all sectors in general and particularly in the higher education sector, the retention of talented staff in higher education institutions is problematic [12, 166, 176, 177]. This is partly due to constant growth in the economy that makes job opportunities for academic talent almost unlimited [12, 177]. Retention of talented individuals is mainly aimed at enabling an institution to keep a high-value workforce and to build a unique source of competitive advantage, which can lead to institutional growth and success [124, 178]. Talent retention is constructed using five sub-variables: (1) benchmarking, (2) job satisfaction, (3) nonfinancial rewards, (4) employee empowerment and (5) employee motivation.

First of all, benchmarking can broadly be defined as a key tool for setting aims by utilising learning and external standards from other institutions, which can act as the best practice for performance [10]. This tool has received considerable attention within Australian institutions [179]. It is seen as a beneficial way of retaining talented staff within higher education institutions through assessing the current strategies of talent retention from the best performing institutions [10, 180]. There are several types of benchmarking within the higher education sector [10]: internal benchmarking compares performance to other divisions of the university, competitive benchmarking compares performance against a chosen group of peer universities, sector benchmarking is a comparison with all universities in the same country and strategic benchmarking involves a comparison with overseas universities. Competitive compensation is considered as an essential element of success towards retaining highly qualified individuals within an institution that seeks to achieve a competitive advantage [181, 182]. Thus, institutions should have a competitive benchmarking system, which is a determining factor for retaining their highly qualified staff [125, 142, 182]. The second sub-variable of talent retention is job satisfaction. It was not until the late 1930s that historians began to consider job satisfaction as worthy of scholarly attention [183]. Job satisfaction involves a positive emotional attitude in workplaces to assist higher education institutions to retain experienced staff and achieve a competitive advantage [11, 166, 184, 185, 186]. It can be understood in terms of work environments, work conditions, relationships with supervisors and career opportunities [177, 184, 186]. Existing high-quality working environments and conditions promote job satisfaction, which assists the improvement of performance at both individual and institutional levels [166, 177, 184]. Therefore, high job satisfaction of talented individuals in academic workplaces is a reflection of existing effective retention strategies [166, 177].

Thirdly, nonfinancial rewards can play a crucial role in assisting an institution in retaining its talented staff through increasing productive time and engagement among individuals and consequently improving their overall productivity [125, 158, 187, 188, 189]. Nonmonetary rewards improve retention rates of highly qualified employees working in higher education institutions [176]. Those rewards involve certification, genuine appreciation and recognition [158]. Likewise, Hina et al. [188] hold the view that nonfinancial rewards include personal growth, interesting work, participation, flexibility, acknowledgement, significance of a role and achievement. Nonfinancial rewards in higher education institutions constitute funding external education, promotion and participation [190]. Employee empowerment is the fourth element of the talent retention construct. A large and growing body of literature about ‘human relations movement’ has been developed since the 1990s [175, 191, 192]. Employee empowerment practices are an essential element of motivating and retaining highly qualified employees for a long time within an institution [83, 193, 194]. Employee empowerment in academic workplaces assists in retaining talented staff, both academic and professional [192, 193]. It improves the satisfaction levels of an institution’s employees through granting them self-efficacy in their workplaces [195, 196]. Successful institutions that seek to increase their productivity should empower employees through encouraging creative ideas and involvement in decision-making [175, 189, 194, 197]. Thus, employee empowerment is a process which values employees by providing them with sufficient responsibility and authority to manage their work professionally [194]. The fifth and final sub-variable of talent retention is employee motivation. Motivational and valued work, professional advancement and supportive learning environments are seen as the key to retaining talented employees [11, 123]. In higher education environments, employee motivation plays a key role in retaining valued staff [11, 166, 177, 198]. An institution should offer proper financial rewards to its employees to ensure employee motivation [159, 199]. Career advancement is a creation of opportunities for highly qualified individuals that could lead them to improve and develop their career paths [137, 152]. These created opportunities are essential for retaining talented individuals [98, 104, 161, 169].

In summary, it has been shown in this review that talent retention is a main area of interest within the field of TM. It is a key source for innovation and sustaining competitive advantage in various institutions in general and educational institutions specifically. Thus, talent retention is a function of benchmarking, job satisfaction, employee empowerment, employee motivation and nonfinancial rewards.

To conclude this section, a review of the TM literature identifies a number of processes in various sectors and institutions. The most common practices of TM are attraction, development and retention. This view is supported by the outcomes of the qualitative study that has been conducted in a case of the higher education sector in Queensland, Australia [43].

11. Discussion

TM is considered a form of investment because talented individuals are viewed as the core source of innovation and social development [12]. The practices of TM are positively associated with improving innovation of institutional performance [200, 201, 202]. These practices play an essential role in nurturing the appropriate conditions for channelling and motivating employees towards the improvement of innovation activities [202]. Consequently, when an organisation fails to redefine its staff value proposition, it will continually have issues in attracting, developing and retaining talent [39]. Thus, TM can provide considerable benefits to an institution [5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. For example, it improves the institution’s overall performance, its ethos, its competitiveness and talent retention, which in turn prevent risks to the institution [203]. TM assists development of the talent pool, improvement of the productivity of individuals, support for effective planning and improvement of human resources management [40, 41]. Furthermore, attraction, development and retention as key practices of TM are strategically the keys of innovation to growth and success of the higher education industry [12], as a competitive advantage can be maintained by attracting, developing and retaining highly qualified individuals in key positions [3, 41, 49, 108].

TM can affect and adjust the behaviours and abilities of individuals to innovate [202]. Talented individuals have become a competitive weapon and resource of innovation for institutions in obtaining a sustainable competitive advantage [204, 205, 206]. A majority of higher education organisations have realised that talented individuals are strategic assets because they play a key role in the success, innovation and growth of the higher education institutions over the long term [9, 12, 39, 40]. These individuals assist higher education organisations with cultural adaption through identifying the challenges of public perception and the development of active learning environments [26, 89, 207]. Highly qualified employees constitute a critical resource of creativity, innovation and therefore future revenues for institutions [12, 106]. In addition, increase in the strategic importance of human resources management for competitive advantage can be achieved by talented individuals [206, 208, 209]. As a result, innovation is a complicated task, which requires high professional ability in knowledge-intensive positions [202]. Hence, talented individuals play a significant role in an institution’s survival and innovation in a dynamic environment [201, 208, 210, 211].

This study provides a clear and inclusive outline of the extant scholarly research from the period 2007–2017. Reviews in this period provide an opportunity to learn from prior experiences in TM. Most importantly, this empirical research is one of the first few studies that extended the previous investigation of TMPs in various sectors to the higher education sector. Both empirical qualitative research represented by the case study in the higher education sector and previous research of TM confirm that the key practices of TM are considered as attraction, development and retention of talent. Looking to Table 1, it is apparent that the vast majority of research is outside the higher education sector; the few studies from within are in non-Australian contexts. This finding is supported by the previous studies. For example, Paisey and Paisey [25] find that TM studies in the higher education sector are limited. The majority of TM studies focus on theoretical frameworks with little focus on pragmatic studies [95, 212, 213, 214]. Furthermore, practical studies on TM are either quantitative or qualitative [20, 213]. On the other side, the findings of Table 1 is supported by the previous research that TMPs ‘can be grouped into five core groups: (i) recruitment, attraction and selection; (ii) training and development; (iii) retention; (iv) identification and (v) performance management of talent’ [21, 53, 116, 126, 213].

Observing at Table 1, many scholars have given empirical attention on retention, development and attraction of talent [121, 131, 205, 206, 213, 215, 216, 217, 218]. One of the key reasons behind this attention is that talent attraction, retention and development are strategically very essential in today’s ephemeral knowledge economy, as they firstly assist an institution to achieve strategic business goals and meet basic business requirements and they form the foundation for the implementation of business strategies [21, 97, 106, 165, 172, 218, 219, 220]. Secondly, institutions that establish their principal competence in talent attraction, talent development and talent retention guarantee their own steadiness and growth among other competitive institutions in the same business sector [21, 107, 108, 221]. Finally, attraction, development and retention of talent are essential for growth and success of higher education institutions over the long term by enacting their strategy through their highly qualified employees [12, 21, 39, 40]. In addition, Table 1 shows that the least attention was paid to the TMPs of acquisition, leadership development, skills gap analysis, workforce and talent planning with one or two articles each.

In general, the results of the three core themes of TM above are in line with Bradley [12], Kamal [26], Rudhumbu and Maphosa [39] and Wu et al. [40] who emphasise that attraction, development and retention of talent are strategically essential for educational success and growth. This view is supported by Waheed et al. [97], Kim et al. [106], Tatoglu et al. [165], Hejase et al. [172], Ford [218], Rothwell [219] and Rothwell et al. [220] who point out that ‘attraction, development, and retention of talent are strategically more important in today’s volatile knowledge economy; because they help an institution achieve strategic business aims, meet basic business requirements, and form the foundation to implement business strategy’ [21]. Similarly, van den Broek et al. [107], Mwangi et al. [108], Xue [127] and Kataike [221] state that an institution ‘that established its core competence in attraction, development, and retention of talent guarantees its own stability and success among other competitors in the industry’ [21].

Overall, although the findings of our case study are consistent with some of the prior studies, there are major variances. This study is one of the first studies that examine TMPs in Australian higher education. The consistency with the previous research was partially conceptual, theoretical or regarding methodological matters. In conclusion, this section has attempted to provide a discussion of both an empirical case study and literature relating to the innovations of TM in the higher education sector. TM is a strategic source for sustaining competitive advantage in all kinds of institutions. Therefore, talent is an essential management for innovative institutions [21, 222, 223, 224].

12. Conclusion

This chapter has attempted to provide a clear explanation of the literature relating to TM. It aims to improve the theoretical and practical understanding of TM research in the higher education sector. The principal conclusion of the empirical study is that higher education institutions are aware of innovation sources that are currently used in managing talent in their divisions and faculties. These were (1) talent attraction (social domain and organisational excellence), (2) talent development (performance management, coaching talent and leadership development) and (3) talent retention (benchmarking, employee motivation, employee empowerment, nonmonetary rewards and job satisfaction). As a result, those individuals contribute significantly to a university’s performance by attracting new students and securing funds for further research. These themes are positively associated with innovation speed of the higher education institutions. TM is an integrated management system that starts with the practices of attracting, developing and retaining talents. So that institutions can benefit from this in the form of products (commodities/services) that have difficult characteristics of imitation and competition. This is because of the expertise and knowledge possessed by their efficient human resources. Although the scholars and researchers differ in determining a unified concept of talent, the specialised literature produces two trends in its definition, some of which are traditionally based on high intelligence, while the modern trend is based on excellent performance, mental ability, technical and dynamic skills, creative thinking and leadership abilities. In addition, the review of literature included various views of talent, but all the scholars and researchers agree that talent is a valuable resource of innovation for all institutions. The literature also identified six common perspectives on TM. From the literature, the strategic perspective was identified as most relevant to achieving the research objectives.

The generalisability of these findings is limited to the Australian university sector in Queensland. This study recommends that there is further research to be done in the higher education area, especially in relation to talent using empirical methodologies. More specifically, mixed method research should be used to fill the gap in the TM literature. As the least attention was paid to the practices of leadership development, talent acquisition, skills gap analysis, workforce and talent planning, and performance management with two or three articles each. This requires more attention in the future research to fill the gap in the TM literature. It would be useful to investigate the current methodology and topic of this research in other countries in order to generalise the findings within the global context.

© 2018 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Atheer Abdullah Mohammed, Abdul Hafeez-Baig and Raj Gururajan (November 27th 2018). Talent Management as a Core Source of Innovation and Social Development in Higher Education, Innovations in Higher Education - Cases on Transforming and Advancing Practice, Dominique Parrish and Joanne Joyce-McCoach, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.81377. Available from:

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