1 Institut for Ledelse og Virksomhedsstrategi, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, SDU2 Institut for Ledelse og Virksomhedsstrategi, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, SDU
Within business life the term “talent” has been used by business leaders and consultants for decades to describe upcoming business managers with certain gifts and skills. Within science, especially within talent management, “talent” has been the fulcrum of most research and most research questions have had - for years - focused on how the environment, culture, psychology and competencies influence the “talent”. To a certain extent science today can explain how certain internal and external variables can influence the development and the performance of a “talent”, but they are still unable to define the term “talent” itself. Despite the lack of definition, scientists have kept using the term “talent” as if “talents” exist in real life, and continued their search for a definition – but so far without results. Through a deconstructive semiotic analysis of the term “talent”, we will show how “talent” has changed semantically, and transformed itself into a floating signifier, and through its multiplicity of meaning, has turned the discipline of talent management into a religion, where believing seems to be more prevalent than knowing. The consequences of talent management being a religion are that talent identification and recruiting are based on subjectivity rather than objectivity and are particular (context dependent) rather than universal (context independent).
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22nd Nordic Academy of Management Conference, 2013