Problem sensing and formulation in talent management
: an exploratory study

  • John Pessima

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study concerns talent management decision making processes. This is important because talent management is recognized as a strategic issue for organizational sustainability in an increasingly complex and dynamic business context. However, little is known or understood about the decision making processes that underpin it. This study extends understanding of talent management decision making through examining talent management problem sensing and formulation processes by human resources (HR) executives.
The research design for this study is qualitative, collected through semi-structured interviews with 25 senior HR executives conducted between October 2019 and February 2021. Using thematic analysis to analyse the data, three main findings emerge. First, the importance of situational awareness and systems thinking as features of strategic talent management problem sensing. Second, the influence of organizational stakeholders on the ways in which talent management problem formulation occurs. Third, is the identification of the increasingly complex and interconnected talent management problem domain that requires agile and adaptive approaches to talent management by HR executives.
The principal contribution of this study to theory is the application of the concepts of problem sensing and problem formulation to better explain talent management decision making processes. It further contributes to practice through the development of a framework that strategic level practitioners can use to develop capabilities, tools, and systems to detect and address organizational talent management issues more effectively.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAshraf Labib (Supervisor) & Valerie Anne Anderson (Supervisor)

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