Talent Management Practices of Ireland Companies

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Talent Management in Ireland

An exploratory study into Talent Management practices of companies based in Ireland

Abstract

The abstract contains an overview of the entire project including the major findings, if any that the research has unearthed. It is designed to ‘whet’ the appetite for the reader to engage in the continued reading of the research.

Contents

Abstract………………………………………………………..

List of figures……………………………………………………

List of tables…………………………………………………….

Abbreviations……………………………………………………

1. Introduction………………………………………………….

1.1. Context…………………………………………………..

1.2. Research aim………………………………………………

1.2.1. Research objectives or specific aims………………………..

1.2.2. Specific Aims………………………………………..

1.3. Potential significance…………………………………………

1.4. Purpose of this research……………………………………….

1.5. Hypothesis (Quantitative – Deductive) or Themes (Qualitative – Inductive)……

1.6. Structure of this dissertation…………………………………….

2. Literature review………………………………………………

2.1. Introduction……………………………………………….

2.2. Attracting and Recruiting………………………………………

2.3. Identification of Talent………………………………………..

2.4. Reward and Retention………………………………………..

2.5. Development……………………………………………….

2.6. Barriers to Talent Management………………………………….

2.7. Literature Review Conclusion…………………………………..

3. Research methodology………………………………………….

3.1. Introduction……………………………………………….

3.2. Research Process……………………………………………

3.3. The Philosophy……………………………………………..

3.4. The Approach………………………………………………

3.5. Research Strategy……………………………………………

3.6. Research Method……………………………………………

3.7. Research Time Horizon……………………………………….

3.8. Data Collection and Reliability………………………………….

3.9. Pilot Test………………………………………………….

3.10. Sample Size………………………………………………

3.11. Ethical Considerations……………………………………….

3.12. Questionnaire Distribution…………………………………….

3.13. Limitations of the Research……………………………………

3.14. Conclusion……………………………………………….

4. Findings and discussion………………………………………….

4.1. Introduction……………………………………………….

4.2. Summary of the Research Method………………………………..

4.3. Surveys Sent and Demographics…………………………………

4.4. Conducting the Analysis……………………………………….

4.5. Demographics, Response Rate and Response Analysis………………….

4.6. Definition and HR Presence…………………………………….

4.7. Perception of Talent Management………………………………..

4.8. Talent Management Strategy……………………………………

4.9. Overall Perception of Talent Management…………………………..

4.10. Barriers to Talent Management…………………………………

4.11. Key Elements of Talent Management Strategy………………………

4.12. Enablers to Talent Management…………………………………

4.13. Key Components of Talent Management…………………………..

4.14. Conclusion to the Analysis of Findings……………………………

5. Discussion……………………………………………………

5.1. Introduction……………………………………………….

5.2. Objective 1………………………………………………..

5.3. Objective 2………………………………………………..

5.4. Objective 3………………………………………………..

5.5. Objective 4………………………………………………..

5.6. Conclusion to the Discussion……………………………………

6. Conclusion and Further Research………………………………….

6.1. Introduction to Conclusion……………………………………..

6.2. Summary of Research Aim……………………………………..

6.3. Implications of the research…………………………………….

6.4. Recommendations…………………………………………..

6.5. Validity of the research………………………………………..

6.6. Reliability of the research………………………………………

6.7. Limitations of the Research…………………………………….

6.8. Future research……………………………………………..

6.9. Conclusion………………………………………………..

7. Bibliography………………………………………………….

8. Appendix A…………………………………………………..

9. Appendix B…………………………………………………..

List of figures

Figure 1: The Research Process

Figure 2: The Research Onion

Figure 3: Methodological Choice

List of tables

Abbreviations

TM Talent Management
CIPD Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
HRM Human Resource Management
HR Human Resources
CPD Continuous Professional Development
HIPO High Potential
PM Performance Management
CSR Corporate Social Responsibility
EVP Employee Value Proposition
SME Small to Medium Size Enterprise

1.                    Introduction

This research proposal will investigate the area of Talent Management (TM) and will seek to identify best practice in this area and examine how this applies to companies in Ireland from the perspective of Human Resource (HR) practitioners.

1.1.               Context

From its initial inception in the 1990’s, TM is still a relatively new concept which has been widely defined over the years, with a general acceptance however that it is a strategic endeavour involving the recruitment, development and retention of employees that are or can be important or even key to the current of future success of a business (Garavan, et al., 2012).

The author has identified that previous research has been undertaken in this area identifying best practices in this area as well as barriers which have impeded successful implementation of TM practices and elements that have supported successful implementation.

With these factors in mind the author was interested in understanding which TM practices were successfully implemented in companies in Ireland, how they compared with best practice and what were the commonly experienced barriers encountered. The author also wanted to gain an insight and understanding of the perception of TM practices in companies within Ireland, from the viewpoint of HR practitioners, who are at the front face of TM within their companies.

1.2.               Research aim

With the employment rate in Ireland falling to 7.2% and the lowest it has been since 2008 (CSO, 2016) and a buoyant employment market, a current “war for talent” is leading more companies to develop and retain their own talent to support their future goals, especially in senior or key strategic positions. This research will identify the best practices of TM within this climate, including the barriers and trends in this area and assess how companies in Ireland are securing their talent pipelines to meet their current and future strategic objectives. It will do this by gaining an understanding of the TM practices being employed by organisations in Ireland and how these practices are viewed by HR Practitioners working within these companies.

1.2.1.           Research objectives or specific aims

Talent Management in Ireland: An exploratory study into Talent Management practices of companies based in Ireland.

1.2.2.           Specific Aims

The specific aims of this research are, but not limited to:

  1. To review the literature concerned with TM and explore the key theories and concepts, identifying what is the best practice approach to TM.
  2. To establish the different TM practices employed by Organisations based in Ireland, identifying the key perceived barriers concerning TM practices faced by these companies.
  3. To investigate what Organisations based in Ireland have in place currently in relation to TM and how it is viewed by HR practitioners.
  4. To determine how current TM practices in Organisations based in Ireland compare with best practice.

1.3.               Potential significance

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1.4.               Purpose of this research

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1.5.               Hypothesis (Quantitative – Deductive) or Themes (Qualitative – Inductive)

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1.6.               Structure of this dissertation

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2.                    Literature review

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2.1.               Introduction

The concept of TM is still relatively new and has been widely defined since its introduction in 1998 following research by McKinsey consultants coining the phrase “The War for Talent” (Chambers, et al., 1998). The ideology of people being a strategic asset for company success and sustainability became popularised thereafter and despite a mainstream acceptance there remained a wide and varied definition of TM itself (Collings & Mellahi, 2009), building on a resource based view of the firm (Barney, 1995),  however there has been a general acceptance that TM is strategic in its nature involving the attraction, engagement, development, retention and rewarding of high performing or HIPO employees who are critical to the sustainability and competitiveness of the organisation (Taylor, 2014 p5-7; CIPD, 2015a; Collings & Mellahi, 2009).

Within this broad definition of TM however, there remains differing opinions on whether an exclusive or inclusive approach is more suitable and whether the focus should be on only a narrow selection of HIPO or high performing employees or whether a broader approach should be considered (Burbach & Royle, 2010). The option of a blended approach has also developed to reflect a more measured and “best fit” approach taking the company context into consideration (Garavan, Carbery, Rock, 2012; Ready, Conger, Hill, 2010). This blended or “best fit” approach allows a more flexible approach to TM supporting the belief that through a focus on employees, organisations could achieve a sustainable competitive advantage (Barney, 1995; Taylor, 2014, p371-374).

Research has shown that despite its growth over the past twenty years, TM is still lacking in academic research and that the subject area is still divergent in some academic views on its’ value to organisations and the best method for obtaining results (Collings, Scullion, Vaiman, 2015; Sparrow & Makram, 2015). There is however, a convergence of thinking regarding the key subcategories within TM that when combined make up its framework. These include attracting and recruiting, identification of talent, retention and finally development of talent (Collings & Mellahi, 2009; CIPD, 2015a; Tansley & Tietze, 2013; Valverde, Scullion, Ryan, 2013).

The ability for companies in Ireland to attract and retain key and talented employees in order to maintain competitiveness and sustainability continues to become increasingly critical with the employment market becoming more buoyant, where the CIPD (2016) have indicated that 70% of companies intended to recruit in Q4 2016. The unemployment rate within Ireland has fallen to an eight year low of 7.2% (Trading Economics, 2017) resulting in a competitive employment market. The CIPD (2014) also identified that increased retention can be achieved through a focus on employee development & career paths. In this context, a TM framework and its elements are key and examined further below.

2.2.               Attracting and Recruiting

Recruitment is key to any company’s “Talent Pipeline” (Stahl, et al., 2012) and attracting a high quantity and calibre of applicants forms an integral part of the TM plan, allowing for a more diverse workforce (Sahey, 2014). Sophisticated recruitment methods like competency frameworks and applicant testing can help identify employees who can better integrate with the company culture (Dmitrieva, et al., 2015).

Employer branding is concerned with showcasing the company’s strengths as an employer and enhancing the corporate image and has the capability to reduce turnover and absenteeism providing existing employees with pride and belief in the corporate image, increasing employee performance in the process (Taylor, 2014, p165-170). Kucherov & Zavyalova (2012) also found that branding can increase the number and quality of applications, accepting lower compensation to secure employment.

CSR is one way that can enhance an employer brand (Stahl, et al., 2012), while exploiting and leveraging the organisation’s reputation, size and capability to support career development and advancement can create an attractive EVP that can positively impact the attraction, engagement and retention of employees (Bell, 2005). Failing to commit to promises of investment and development of employees can negatively affect the Employer Brand and reputation, with the potential to increase attrition and reducing the number and quality of external applications. A strong employer brand can support and benefit the sustainability of the company through its positive affect on the attraction and retention of employees (Taylor, 2014 p182-184). Employer Branding can also help to reduce the risk of employees leaving by providing a greater understanding of the business prior to them joining (Doherty, 2010).

2.3.               Identification of Talent

A key element in TM is the ability to identify the Talent. This involves understanding what skills the company requires and holds of value. A competency based approach allows for the identification of the skills, knowledge and behaviour consistent with the organisation’s strategy and benchmarking against this to identify those who most closely possess these competencies and also indicating suitability for development (Hayton & Kelly, 2006).

Having an understanding of talent and competencies in a company context provides knowledge of “what talent looks like” and allows for a benchmark to compare employees against as part of the talent identification process used externally, through recruitment, as well as for internal identification of Talent (Davies, 2010). Stahl et al. (2012) identified how an exclusive/ differentiated approach or an inclusive approach could be taken when it came to identification and development of Talent however more recently Ulrich (2015) found that sustainability can be better achieved not through an exclusive approach to TM but a more inclusive approach and focus on the Organisation and its culture.

PM can support the identification of HIPO or high performing employees through its use of objective setting, monitoring, and feedback (Williamson, 2011). It has often received a bad reputation, however, seen as a bureaucratic, once a year process and a management control tool. PM has the capability of being more than this by becoming a more integrated and regular process (Appendix C) focused on the development and support of employees as well as improving performance with employees becoming more engaged and leading to a positive impact on retention (Pilbeam & Corbridge, 2010, p319-346).

Performance alone is not necessarily an indication or guarantee of employee success in a higher role or the long term (Hay Group, 2008) and tools such as the McKinsey 9 box grid (McKinsey, 2008) provides a mechanism and predictor of future capability (Davies, 2010).

2.4.               Reward and Retention

Reward, as an element of TM is not just pay and the concept of Total Reward includes elements such as a positive workplace, individual growth and a compelling future (Appendix B). Research has shown that Total Reward can help to create development and career advancement opportunities, positively impacting employee retention (Kucherov & Zavyalova, 2012).

This inclusive approach to TM can support retention and consequently company sustainability through employee growth, training and development, allowing for career opportunities and advancement (Cao, Chen & Song, 2013; Zingheim & Shuster, 2000). Pilbeam & Corbridge (2010) have also identified that a Total Reward approach can positively impact recruitment and retention, achieving a higher level of performance and engagement in the process.

Research has shown that Total Reward can improve the level of employee satisfaction increasing their motivation, engagement and performance in the process and leading to a more competitive, sustainable and profitable organisation  (Pilbeam & Corbridge, 2010), where the employees have the potential to become a source of competitive advantage (Barney, 1995).

The CIPD (2014) identified career development, promotion & flexibility as positively impacting on retention and Merry (2014) noted that engaging with staff is also key in these areas. Research has shown that engagement through flexible working can provide for a higher level of commitment from its employees along with an increased sense of loyalty also aiding retention (Taskforce, 2010).

The CIPD (2011) found that drivers of employee commitment and engagement, included career development and progression, an improvement in morale and a reduction in attrition in the process. However, in cases where career development is not apparent or supported a decrease in morale can occur, becoming a factor in employees’ decisions to leave employment. Overall, however support of employee development and career progression has been identified as a mechanism to support business strategy and objectives, through the attraction, development and retention of employees (Sturges, Conway & Liefooghe, 2010).

2.5.               Development

A core principle of TM is the development of employees and research has increasingly found that the traditional model of training is no longer suited to the world of work. The concepts of CPD and life-long learning have become more prevalent in recent times where learning is an ongoing process rather than a one-off event, like training, and seen as more relevant to the knowledge worker (Gold, et al., 2013, p363-380).

Blended Learning and the 70:20:10 model has grown in popularity in recent times and supports the premise that learning in the workplace or on the job, through experience as opposed to classroom training, can increase the retention and practicality of this learning through a combination of formal coaching or training as well as workplace or on-the-job training (Breda-Verduijn & Heijboer, 2016; Gold, et al., 2013, p281-323).

Employee Development, as previously mentioned has been shown through research to increase job satisfaction and engagement, while strengthening the “talent pipeline” and succession planning (Stahl, et al., 2012), thus protecting the sustainability of a company and aligning its workforce with its future skills requirements (Hills, 2009). An integrated TM system, which includes a blended learning approach, can provide for a more inclusive approach to TM, integrating with PM and competency frameworks, driving engagement, commitment and higher levels of performance from employees, helping to identify talented employees in the process (Jennings, 2011).

Talent or talented employees has been widely defined in academic literature as those employees who are critical to the company or who are identified as high performing or HIPO, having competencies that can support the current or future needs of the business. HIPO employees are identified through their consistent outperformance in comparison to their fellow employees and who are considered as top performers, exhibiting behaviours akin to the business core competencies. It is these employees who companies should seek to identify, develop and retain and are a main focus when it comes to exclusive or differentiated TM (Ready, et al., 2010).

Once talented or HIPO employees have been identified, linking organisational strategy with leadership development can help to build the capabilities and competencies that can support those that will be required by the organisation in the future. Research has identified succession planning as a means of supporting an organisation’s sustainability, providing protection against senior leadership attrition and as a mechanism to support organisational growth (Fulmer, Stumpf, Bleak, 2009).

A critical role for TM, succession planning and employee development is to ensure that the organisation strategy is aligned to talent identification and development, keeping focus on the key competencies required by the company. This process, however, should be a continuous process of identification, development and assessment/ measurement in order to identify further development opportunities or the need for continued support in those areas already identified (Ruggiero, 2008).

2.6.               Barriers to Talent Management

While some barriers to TM have been discussed above, research has identified that approaches to TM can vary widely from an inclusive or exclusive approach and even depending on the size of the company and whether it is a Multinational or SME (Mireia, Scullion, Ryan, 2013). Cost and effectiveness are key questions in implementing TM programmes and these along with the question of whether the focus is impactful and of most value has been a barrier to effective TM (Boudreau & Ramstad, 2006).

Stahl et al. (2012) identified several key enablers for implementing TM successfully, overcoming these barriers and in situations where exclusive, inclusive and blended approaches were taken.

2.7.               Literature Review Conclusion

From the above research, it is apparent that the primary grounding of TM literature is academic in nature and while industry and company case studies have been carried out they have been in the vain of theory and knowledge advancement rather than industry practice (Valverde, et al., 2013; Stahl, et al., 2012; Stokes, et al., 2016).

This study will use the insights gained from the literature review to shape and develop the primary research associated with this study. The study will seek provide a HR practitioners’ view on TM and what is applied in practice identifying barriers to implementation within the context of companies based in Ireland and how they compare to best practice.

3.                    Research methodology

3.1.               Introduction

This section details the research methodology and strategy chosen to achieve the research objectives, including an overview of the research process chosen for this dissertation. The author considers the research design and the justification for taking this approach, discussing also the ethical considerations, the limitations and alternative strategies for the research are also considered.

The author discusses the selection sample, size and method of collection including consideration for tools and measures. The methodology for data collection is discussed here and details are provided of how the data is analysed and interpreted in order to achieve the objectives themselves. The section ends with a summary of the research methodology approach chosen.

3.2.               Research Process

While conducting this dissertation and the research itself, the process involved a continuous review and revisiting of previous stages of the process to ensure the objectives remained relevant and central to the research and would be satisfied as a result (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The Research Process

Adapted from (Saunders, ,Lewis, Thornhill, 2016, p.12)

The author utilized the “research onion” (Figure 2) when designing the framework and to help with the creation of a structure for the methodology itself. This tool helps to separate the various aspects of the research in order to develop the research approach, assessing the options at each stage of the research in order to ensure the elements are best suited to the research objectives, moving to the next layer to further progress the research. The author uses this model to structure the research and determine the methodology for the dissertation (Saunders, et al., 2016).

Figure 2: The Research Onion

(Saunders, et al., 2016, p.164)

3.3.               The Philosophy

The author first started with the outer layer of the research onion and considered the main philosophical approaches to the research that could be taken; positivism and interpretivism. The choice here relates to the authors outlook on an objective reality (Denscombe, 2014).

At this stage, epistemological and ontological assumptions are at the forefront of the decision-making process and the researchers own values and beliefs about whether they will influence on the research shape the approach taken, the research methods and the analysis of research findings (Saunders, et al., 2016, p.124).

Research has identified that both Positivism and interpretivism are relevant for consideration in business research (Bryman & Bell, 2003,p.16-18), with an interpretivism approach considered highly appropriate when it comes to management research and business research (Bryman & Bell, 2003; Saunders, et al., 2016).

Positivism is concerned with scientific epistemological philosophical approach, gathering research data on an observed reality and identifying causal relationships and even regularaties in the data sets in order to make law like or scientific generalisations and thus taking an structured approach leading to objective determinations, where the research can be replicated. The ontological view that the reasearch is unbiased and external to the process gives rise to the belief that the research is unbiased, however even with this approch the researcher can influnce the data capture process. In order to minimize this bias large sample sizes are used in this approch and structured approach is taken with regard to measurement (Bryman & Bell, 2003; Saunders, et al., 2016).

The interpretivist approch allows for a more subjective philosophical approach by the researcher. Within this context a deeper and more meaningful view of the data is taken where the researcher cannot be external or separted from the research itself. This has led to interpretivism being considered critical of pisitivism in its approch, however it is not considered that these approaches are opposites or separate positions but rather that when deciding on the research approach they represent a spectrum of research itself (Saunders, et al., 2016).

Within the context of this research an interpretivistic approch would allow for a deeper understanding of the barriers and enablers to Talent Management, however this would align better with a small sample and in-depth interviews. The researcher, for the purpose of this dissertation, will take a positivist approach, reflecting their view of the world and involvement in the subject matter itself. A positivist approach to the research would allow the researcher to better achieve the research objectives and allow for repitition of the research in the future.

3.4.               The Approach

Having decided on a Positivist approach to the research, the next layer distinguishes two approaches that can be taken; inductive or deductive. A deductive approach follows a scientific, positivist perspective where the objective reality can be measured and an intervention can allow for the prediction of the outcome, leading to the research topic or hypotheses being determined as proved or disproved. An inductive approach focuses more emphasis on the order or context of events taking place and as such tends to be more conceptional in its nature (Bryman & Bell, 2003).

In this research project, the approach taken was a deductive one. The researcher completed a questionnaire on a large sample size in a quantitative method involving deduction. Through a review of literature in relation to Talent Management the author aims to identify trends and patterns about what is in place and effective within this area. The author has taken a descriptive study to ascertain the prevalence of talent management practices and their effectiveness building from previous research studies in this areas along common themes.

The literature review has provided the basis for a number of hypotheses (e.g. practicing talent management initiatives has a positive impact on retention, engagement and performance along with other business outcomes). Within this context the research will look to take a deductive approach (Figure 3) to validate or invalidate these theories, while making observations into the hypothesis through the use of a descriptive approach. The other reason for choosing a deductive approach is that the researcher chose to undertake this research on a large sample size that would provide enough data to allow for generalisations on the population based on the responses and which would provide for a better understanding of the practiced nature of Talent Management compared to the academic and theoretical approaches.

3.5.               Research Strategy

The third layer of the research onion concerns the research strategy and how the researcher will achieve the objectives. This involves an understanding of how the research will be delivered and how the researcher will seek to answer the research question (Saunders, et al., 2016).

The strategic approach to research and data collection can include a quantitative or qualitative approach or a combined approach as depicted in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Methodological Choice

(Saunders, et al., 2016, p.167)

A qualitative approach to the research strategy lends itself for a deeper, complex and even human understanding, from a philosophical point of view a qualitative approach is more often associated with interpretivism (Denzin & Lincoln, 2011). A qualitative approach is normally also associated with an inductive research approach and utilised to further develop theory or literature that is already in existence (Saunders, et al., 2016), however Yin (2014) notes also that qualitative strategies can also begin by taking a deductive research approach to test existing theory.

A quantitative approach, however, is more focused on the numerical, factual and generalisable aspect of a research subject. With the positivist approach of this research project, research has identified that a quantitative approach is most appropriate and through the use of questionnaires and surveys the research can provide robust reliability, while allowing for a large data collection over a relatively short period of time (Duffy & Chenail, 2009; Farndale & Keliher, 2013).

The alternative approach of taking a Mixed Method approach to research design can be used as a multiple methods approach to research, using both qualitative and quantitative methods and analysis. Using this approach has been found to contain a natural preference to one or other approach and research tends to be weighted in its design, while there is also more risk that bias will present itself due to the interpretivist approach of qualitative research. However it can also provide for a richer data and analysis than taking a mono approach to research design (Saunders, et al., 2016).

From a review of the literature in relation to Talent Management, and its sub-compartments, it is prevalent that a quantitative approach is widespread in this research subject. This research will attempt to us a descriptive approach in order to gain an understanding of the prevalence of Talent Management in practice and gain a clear picture of what is in place, what works and the impact it has on the organisation. An evaluative approach could also be used with this research to test the effectiveness of strategies and initiatives with organisations, with a contribution to theory and provide an understanding of reason and effectiveness. A combined approach here is descripto-explanatory where the research and results are analysed using a combination of these approaches.  (Saunders, et al., 2016).

3.6.               Research Method

This research is focused on Talent Management in practice and the actual value and potential value to the organisation, through an understanding of the theory itself, what is implemented and the value and effectiveness of these initiatives. The data will be collected in a specific context, namely, HR practitioners who are working in companies based in Ireland. The researcher seeks to explore whether the theoretical and academic approaches are utilised in practice, what are the enablers and barriers to implementing these initiatives and whether these initiatives have an effect on company performance.

It was therefore determined that a deductive research would be taken involving a quantitative survey that this approach would provide the basis for an analysis of company profiles in order to explore the data, patterns and commonalities in the research.

Utilising questionnaires will provide a research mechanism for standardised questioning of a large sample size in a relatively low cost and short period of time. This approach will also fit with the descriptive research approach taken (Saunders, et al., 2016). Other research strategies were also looked at but were found to be lacking in comparison to the approach chosen when time, cost and the research objectives were considered; these included longitudinal studies, in-depth interviews and study groups. A case study approach was also considered; however, access would have been an issue here and while the results may have helped to answer the research question for that particular company the sample would be too small and not reliable enough to make generalisations about the population itself (Bryman, 2011). The approach taken will allow the researcher to complete the research in the time period and also allow the researcher to answer the research question and sub-questions in an ethical manner, allowing participants to remain anonymous and without fear of repercussions from their respective companies.

3.7.               Research Time Horizon

When designing the research approach, the research can take a point in time or “snapshot” for the research or can be taken over a set period of time, longitudinal. Longitudinal research enables the researcher to study changes over time and the impact changes can have on the sample. Given the research question and time constraints of this research project, a cross-sectional approach will be taken to the research. This approach will also help the research to answer the research question, where an understanding of the population is sought after at a specific point in time and not over a period of time or an analysis of change (Saunders, et al., 2016).

3.8.               Data Collection and Reliability

A convenience sampling was utilised for the purpose of the research and the questionnaire was solicited the participants from involved professionally in Human Resources, from various industries, businesses and positions. Participation was invited from the researcher’s large LinkedIn network as well as from various LinkedIn Irish HR Forums and while some of the participants would be known to the researcher, the survey tool was anonymous and so could not be linked back to any specific respondents or their respective companies. The author did not hold any vested interest in any specific outcome from the research and the research project itself was not funded or sponsored in any way.

As part of the research project the author’s intention was to ensure reliability of the Questionnaire through the use of an already validated and reliable Questionnaire and while research did identify several academic papers where the topic of Talent Management in practice was the subject matter, and where a Questionnaire was utilised as the data collection method (Egerová, Malach, Ubreziov, 2013; Mercer, 2017; ERC, 2012; Savov, et al., 2016; (Ferencova, Ali Taha, Sirkova, 2015; C.I.P.D., 2017), however despite several attempts to gain access to the Questionnaires utilised in the studies, through email contact and messages to relevant researchers through their accounts on ResearchGate, LinkedIn and Academia, no responses were forthcoming from the original authors of the research.

In a situation where an original questionnaire is utilised for research the researcher must ensure that the questionnaire is valid and reliable.  Here reliability is concerned with ensuring the techniques and procedures utilised for collecting and analysing the data would yield consistent results, were they to be replicated by another researcher or at a different time. Validity refers to the measures used and whether they are appropriate and whether the data has been accurately analysed. Validity also examines whether the results and findings of the research can be generalisable towards the total population (Saunders, et al., 2016, p.202-203).

3.9.               Pilot Test

In designing the Questionnaire to be used for the research the author reviewed a number of similar research projects on the same topic and looked to adopt and adapt questions used in these studies, which would answer the research question (Egerová, Malach, Ubreziov, 2013; Mercer, 2017; ERC, 2012; Savov, et al., 2016; (Ferencova, Ali Taha, Sirkova, 2015; C.I.P.D., 2017). These research projects followed similar constructs for their questions and separated their questionnaires into a number of sections including linking Strategic Talent Management, Recruitment & Selection, Talent Identification, Performance & Reward, Retention, Development, Enablers (reason for implementation) and Barriers (Reasons for non-implementation). The wording of the questions was carefully considered and compared to the wording of similar questions from these other studies and adopted where possible and adapted where it was not possible to replicate the questions.

In order to ensure the reliability and validity of the research the author decided to undertake a pilot test of the Questionnaire. This will help to ensure that the data collected is done so in a consistent manner (Reliability), and also that the data collected is accurate and actually measures and answers the research question. The pilot will test the understanding of the questions and ensure also that the questions are understood by each respondent in the same way and as intended, and without ambiguity (Saunders, et al., 2016, p449-452).

During the pilot test a number of HR Practitioners were selected based on their awareness of the subject matter, but at varying levels of seniority and company size. In completing the pilot test, the participants were asked that while completing the Questionnaire could they also critically evaluate it through a short follow up questionnaire (Bell & Waters, 2014) and provide feedback including;

  1. Where the Instructions for completing the questionnaire clear?
  2. Which questions, if any, were not clear or were ambiguous?
  3. Which questions, if any, did you not feel comfortable answering?
  4. Was there any questions or answers that were not included, that you feel should have been?
  5. Was the layout and structure of the questionnaire clear?
  6. How long did the questionnaire take to complete?
  7. Do you have any overall feedback or comments about the questionnaire?

The pilot study was completed by participants who were informed, asked to participate and who fully understood they were pilot testing a questionnaire and would be asked to provide feedback upon completion of this pilot.

3.10.          Sample Size

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3.11.          Ethical Considerations

Research Ethics and ethical considerations help to ensure that the author is responsible in accessing and involving research participants of the study and reducing any potential harm to them through, or as a result of, their participation in the research. The research should be done transparently and fairly, ensuring the participants are fully aware of the research purpose and how the data they have given will be used (Bryman & Bell, 2003).

In designing the research strategy and methodology the research employed the use of anonymous questionnaires deployed through an online survey tool, Survey Monkey. Participants were invited to partake in the research by way of email/ LinkedIn In-mail and through a number of dedicated LinkedIn Irish HR Boards. As part of this invitation the researcher clearly communicated that the Questionnaire would be anonymous and that the data collected through the study would be utilised solely for research purposes.

The Questionnaires were designed in such a way as to allow participants to bypass any question or section they did not want to answer, while an introduction page was included at before the start of the Questionnaire explaining the purpose of the study and how the data collected would be used providing an option to decline participation in the study or to participate through an informed consent option. The research solicited participants for the study, whoever ensured that there was no coercion or pressure exerted beyond initial contact and correspondence, with all participation voluntary.

The Online tool utilised, Survey Monkey, is anonymous in its application for the purpose of this study and access to this information is restricted to the researcher only with a private username and password for accessing the account.

3.12.          Questionnaire Distribution

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3.13.          Limitations of the Research

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3.14.          Conclusion

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4.                    Findings and discussion

4.1.               Introduction

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4.2.               Summary of the Research Method

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4.3.               Surveys Sent and Demographics

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4.4.               Conducting the Analysis

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4.5.               Demographics, Response Rate and Response Analysis

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4.6.               Definition and HR Presence

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4.7.               Perception of Talent Management

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4.8.               Talent Management Strategy

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4.9.               Overall Perception of Talent Management

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4.10.          Barriers to Talent Management

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4.11.          Key Elements of Talent Management Strategy

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4.12.          Enablers to Talent Management

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4.13.          Key Components of Talent Management

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4.14.          Conclusion to the Analysis of Findings

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5.                    Discussion

5.1.               Introduction

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5.2.               Objective 1

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5.3.               Objective 2

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5.4.               Objective 3

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5.5.               Objective 4

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5.6.               Conclusion to the Discussion

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6.                    Conclusion and Further Research

6.1.               Introduction to Conclusion

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6.2.               Summary of Research Aim

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6.3.               Implications of the research

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6.4.               Recommendations

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6.5.               Validity of the research

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6.6.               Reliability of the research

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6.7.               Limitations of the Research

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6.8.               Future research

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6.9.               Conclusion

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7.                    Bibliography

Bryman, A., (2011). Business Research Methods. London: University Press.

Gargan, D., (2011). A long lost dog. [Online]
Available at: http://www.gargan.com
[Accessed 3 January 2014].

Gargan, D., (2014). The Elephant in the Room. The Animal Instinct, 1(4), pp. 23-43.

Smith, D. A. & Jones, A. D., (2013). The National College of Ireland Compendium. 2nd ed. Dublin: NCI.

8.                    Appendix A

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9.                    Appendix B

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