Philosophy of Management

Volume 13, Issue 3, 2014

Loyal Talents, Distorted Knowledge?

Billy Adamsen
Pages 3-20

Do We Really Know What the Term “Talent” in Talent Management Means? – And What Could Be the Consequences of Not Knowing?

Over the centuries the term “talent” has changed semantically and slowly transformed itself into a floating signifier or become an accidental designator. The term “talent” no longer has one single meaning and a “referent” in real life, but instead a multiplicity of meaning and references to something beyond real life, something indefinite and indefinable. In other words, today we do not know specifically what the term “talent” in talent management really means or refers to. Indeed, this is problematical, because in late modernity the term “talent” has become a popular and frequently used key term among business consultants and, within the science of human resource management, a cornerstone in the discipline of “talent management”, and not knowing what the term really means will turn any talent discussion, talent identification and talent recruitment into a question of subjectivity and belief in talent rather than objectivity and knowledge of talent.