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Editorial Board A Refereed Monthly International Journal of Management
Prof. B. P. Sharma
(Editor in Chief)
Prof. Mahima Birla
(Group Editor)
Dr. Khushbu Agarwal
Ms. Asha Galundia
(Circulation Manager)

 Editorial Team

Dr. Devendra Shrimali
Dr. Dharmesh Motwani
Mr. Jinendra Vyas

Factors Affecting Talent Management in Governmental Organizations: A Succession Planning Approach

Ali Mahfoozi

PhD student, Department of Management, Islamic Azad University, Kerman Sciences and Researches Branch, Iran.

Sanjar Salajegheh

Assistant professor, Department of Management, Islamic Azad University, Kerman Branch, Kerman, Iran( Corresponding author)

Mahmoud Ghorbani

Associate professor, Department of Management, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad Branch, Mashhad, Iran.

Ayoub Sheikhi

Statistics Group, Department of Statistics and Computer, shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran.



Talent management has been received increasing attention over recent years. The elites play a pivotal role in maintaining comparative advantages against rivals. Elitism is a perspective required to be adopted throughout all levels of a company or an organization. This study was intended to design a conceptual model of talent management based on succession planning approach by using evidence from governmental organizations in Mashhad, Iran. This developmental applicable research was performed through qualitative methods including the review of literature from 1999 to 2016 and the Delphi survey technique. The findings of this study showed that governmental organizations can manage talent flows by considering three main constituents, ‘strategy of talent management’, ‘talent management’, and ‘succession planning’. ‘Talent management’ is affected by ‘talent’s way of thinking’ and ‘talent strategy’. Moreover, ‘strategy of talent management’ refers to communications, employee planning, performance management, rewards and recognition, and culture. ‘Succession planning’ is implemented through developing structure, context, and content.

Key word: talent management, succession planning, governmental organization, talent strategy

1.      Introduction

Globalization exerts growing pressure on organizations. It is well known that managers’ ability in optimized identification, education and use of people determines the success of an organization (Barner, 2006). Talent management refers to the process of identifying and developing key individuals who possess important knowledge, skills and abilities in a particular business. It is of utmost importance to retain essential capabilities and competencies in the manpower in order to build and maintain business competitiveness. Moreover, the talent management process provides key individuals with enough of opportunities to expand their skills and experience through involvement in challenging duties, professional development, and career growth, which, in turn, can establish loyalty in business. Currently, talent management has drawn much more attention from scholars due to its effect on competitive advantages of a company (Ashton & Morton, 2005; Coulson-Thomas, 2012). Succession planning as one of the tools used in talent management includes the deliberate and systematic efforts to project leadership requirements, to identify a pool of high potential candidates, and to develop leadership competencies through intentional learning experiences and leader selection (Tropiano, 2004). It is claimed that business in the future will face a challenge regarding organizational knowledge as well as human resources who can afford to produce such invaluable knowledge. Accordingly, talent management is a latent weapon in the next world war for talents (Michaels, Handfield-Jones, & Axelrod, 2001). Not only is there a vital need for talent attraction, development and retention, but also these critical resources are required to be managed (Sweem, 2009). Despite additional costs in the process of talent attraction and the program of training and development, the risk of losing talents is on the rise due to their willing to leave organizations or change jobs. The probable causes behind such issue might be organizational downsizing, numerous opportunities caused by new technology, easy availability of extreme jobs by the internet, job dissatisfaction, lack of organizational commitment, lack of meritocracy, and change in needs (Byham, 2002; Michaels et al., 2001; Rothwell, 2010; Williams, 2000). These problems are known as labor force dilemma in the public sector. Therefore, talented individuals account for organizational success however appropriate strategies are required to make effective use of this asset, as well (Sweem, 2009). This necessitates further investigations on the status quo of talent management in each organization. The growth of competitive economy and demographic variation of workforce end up intense competition for talent, which, in turn, requires a system of succession planning for talent attraction, development and retention (Groves, 2007). On the other hand, the aging managers and approaching retirement age induce organizational challenges of lack of knowledge and skills (Slan-Jerusalim & Hausdorf, 2007). The scarcity of talent demands the implementation of succession planning systems for identifying and training high-capacity employees (Dohm, 2000). More to the point, there is also a lack of a localized model of succession planning proportionate to organizational needs for attraction and retention of talented individuals (Hunte-Cox, 2004). Therefore, the objective of the present study was to develop a model of talent management with succession planning approach for governmental organizations.

Literature review

1.1.Talent management

According to Berger and Berger (2003), talent management is the process of proactive identification, selection, and nurturing key performers, sourcing, development and allocation of replacements for key personnel, as well as allocation of resources to key talent; contingent on their potential value to the firm. Rothwell (2010) maintained that talent management is a process where the best people are attracted, developed, and retained. Lamoureux, Campbell, and Smith (2009) stated that talent management contains recruitment, selection, identification, retention, management and development of manpower who have the potential for high performance. Its chief focus is on skills and abilities in addition to individual’s potential to play senior management roles. Moreover, it is shown that talent management can assess individual’s contribution in the way of organizational success. Fundamentally, talent management establishes a talent pool containing external and internal sources, adequately deploys such invaluable resources in paramount positions, and then concentrates on triad of motivation, organizational commitment and extra-roles behaviors devoting to organizational performance (Collings & Mellahi, 2009).

Recently, there has been several research conducted on talent management. In this section, we point out some of them just to emphasize diversity of approaches in this context. The first approach deals with establishment of sound theoretical background for the discipline. In so doing, there are main subcategories, which regard definition of talent as well as talent management. For instance, Gallardo-Gallardo, Dries, and González-Cruz (2013) noted that talent may be shaped a concept of natural ability, mastery, commitment, and fit evident as innate abilities, acquired skills, knowledge, skills, and attitudes whereby better outcome can be achieved. They pointed out that inclusive and exclusive approach to talent management may be considered, as well. Similarly, Meyers, van Woerkom, and Dries (2013) maintained that talent can be innate or acquired in nature.

The second addresses talent management itself. As a result, four major perspectives on talent management prevail in the literature. The first concentrates on a range of practices and functions mainly correlated to human resource management (Lewis & Heckman, 2006). Those scholars holding this perspective attempt to differentiate talent management practices from human resource management while highlighting its strategic and future-oriented nature, and its link to strategic objectives (Tarique & Schuler, 2010). The next perceives talent management as a way where various competencies of talented individuals are carried out in action. In this point of view, talented individuals are sometimes described as "top performers" or "elite group of employees"; put it differently, this perspective focuses on exclusive approach to talent management. Therefore, organizations are as "strong" as how competent their best employees are (Downs & Swailes, 2013). The third perspective puts emphasis on the role of employee flow within the organization and regards supply and demand; in other words, it draws attention to internal talent pools which strongly impacting decisions pertained to succession planning (Aksakal, Dağdeviren, Eraslan, & Yüksel, 2013). The fourth deals with identification of key – pivotal – positions instead of looking for talents per se. Accordingly, organizational perspective as well as organizational interests are two paramount elements in this regard (Iles, Preece, & Chuai, 2010).

1.2.Succession planning

Succession planning regards a systematic process where the requirements of high-level managerial posts are evaluated via a performance appraisal process. It is considered in the organization to respond to shortcomings found in a replacement chart (Rothwell, 2010). In this concept, planning is carried out on all high-level posts and managers’ framework (Perrenoud, 2012). The program of succession planning is hardly considered by governmental organizations. Succession planning is described as the plan an organization apply in order to fill its most leading leadership and professional positions (Huang, 2001). Moreover, it refers to the growing, meaningful, and systematic identification of qualified and right successors to leadership to improve its performance, progression, and preparedness in an organization (Kim, 2003; McDonald, 2006). Likewise, Michelson (2006) maintain that succession planning is putting the appropriate people on the bus, getting the inappropriate people off the bus, that is, simply placing the right people in the right seats. Some scholars noted that succession planning is positioning the right people in the right place at the right time (Conger & Fulmer, 2003; Rothwell, 2010).

2.      Research methodology

This study was performed with a purpose of developing a model of talent management with succession planning approach in governmental organizations of Mashhad, Iran. Qualitative methods were used in this developmental applicable study. An extensive review of literature was carried out to develop the initial model (Figure 1). Subsequently, the initial model was converted into a well-structured questionnaire. As many as 18 experts in the pertained areas were selected to measure validity and reliability of the questionnaire prior to the first round of the Delphi process. Validity and reliability were investigated by using face validity and Cronbach's alpha. Thereafter, the Delphi technique was used to reach group consensus on each dimension, factor, and indicator considered in this questionnaire. The statistical population of the present study (the panel of the Delphi technique) consisted of employees with at least a bachelor degree from governmental organizations in Mashhad during the year 2014. These organizations are required to adopt Provincial Budgeting System. Therefore, a total of 32 organizations were identified with a population size of 5951 people. Of whom 5055 gained a bachelor degree. The other (896 people) had a graduate degree (Master of Art or PhD). For this large population, two-stage sampling including one-stage cluster sampling and stratified random sampling was used to select a sample size of corresponds. The sample size of the study was calculated as follows:




where N is the total population size, and S are the mean value and standard deviation of the initial model (talent management with succession planning approach), z is 1.96 for 95% confidence level. Accordingly, S and are 1.91 and 3.89 for in the pre-test phase. Considering Equations 1 and 2, the final sample size was measured 349. With 15% attrition over three-month, the ultimate desired sample size resulted in 357 participants. In the first stage of sampling, Gabriel A. Almond's classification of governmental organizations were used to categorize all the target organizations in this study. Therefore, these organizations were divided into four classes: (1) extractive organizations (chiefly receive resources such as goods, individuals, services, and etc.), (2) distributional organizations (chiefly give out resources among society members), (3) regulatory organizations (chiefly contribute to the regular order in a society), and (4) symbolic organizations (chiefly involve in the institutionalization of behavior in a society). Hence, these 32 organizations were assigned into a class with similar field of activity. Table 1 shows the classification of the organizations and the number of employees in each class.

Table 1. Number of organizations and employees in stratified random sampling (proportional allocation)




Extractive organizations

Distributional organizations

Regulatory organizations

Symbolic organizations

Number of organizations in each stratum





Number of employees in each stratum





Size of the stratum






After determining the sample size in each class, a total of 357 questionnaires were prepared and distributed among them. The questionnaires were collected and modified based on the panel comments. This process was performed as a series of rounds until unanimous consensus was determined to have been achieved. Kendall's Coefficient of Concordance was also determined. The final corroborated questionnaire was converted into the final proposed model (Figure 2).

3.      Results and Discussion

In this study, a body of literature has been reviewed to develop the initial model (). As shown in Figure 1, it contains three main dimensions including talent management, succession planning, and talent management strategy. The former has two influential factors, talent’s way of thinking and talent strategy. Afterwards, this model was converted into a questionnaire which has 64 indicators, 16 factors, and 3 dimensions (Appendix I in Supplementary material).

Figure 1. The initial model of the study

Table 2 presents the reliability of the questionnaire. It was indicated that each construct had a reliability greater than 0.8. The total reliability of the questionnaire was 0.89.

Table 2. Results of reliability (Cronbach’s alpha values)

Strategy of talent management


Talent’s way of thinking


Talent strategy


Succession planning





The panelists were then demonstrated their agreements on a five-point Likert-type scale (1 = Strongly disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Uncertain, 4 = Agree, 5 = Strongly agree). Consensus was based on a mean score between 51% and 100% (Uncertain, agree, or strongly agree). Those sub-dimensions that earned a mean score below 4 (Strongly Disagree, Disagree, or Uncertain) were eliminated from the model. As a result, nine indicators were removed while 19 were suggested to be considered in the questionnaire by the panelists (Round 1). The second questionnaire was developed and rated by the experts, as well. The results of the second round showed that 13 indicators failed to reach unanimous agreement. On Round 3, it was exhibited that all indicators (n=62) attained the prevailing agreement, which further corroborated by Kendall's Coefficient of Concordance calculated for each sub-dimension (Table 3). As can be seen, there was strong unanimity among the panelists (W= 0.77).

Table 3.Results of Kendall's Coefficient of Concordance

Strategy of talent management


Talent’s way of thinking


Talent strategy


Succession planning





The final questionnaire dropped from the Delphi method was consisted of 3 dimensions, 16 factors, and 62 indicators (Appendix II in Supplementary material), which are shown as a conceptual model in Figure 2. The findings of the present study showed that the model of talent management with succession planning approach includes three main elements, namely ‘talent management strategy’, ‘talent management’, and ‘succession planning’. ‘Talent management strategy’ is influenced by ‘strategy of talent management’ and ‘talent’s way of thinking’. ‘Strategy of talent management’ contains five factors, including communications, employee planning, performance management, rewards and recognition, and culture. ‘Talent’s way of thinking’ includes talent attraction, talent identification, talent development, and maintenance of positive relationships. Talent involvement, talent retention, personal performance, and organizational performance are indicative of ‘talent strategy’. ‘Succession planning’ is composed of structure, context, and content.

Figure 2. The model obtained from the Delphi technique

Current research has presented that although the war for talented individuals becomes intense owing to labor market shortages (Boudreau & Ramstad, 2005; Branham, 2005; Brewster, Sparrow, & Harris, 2005; Cappelli, 2000; Lawler, 2005; Nybø, 2004; Sparrow, 2004), few efforts have been made on talent management strategies. The different dimensions of talent management contain performance management, as well as recognition and reward (Heinen & O'Neill, 2004; Schweyer, 2004). The findings of this study corroborated the pertained literature; for example, Ross (2005) reported the need for opportunities to grow for employees and constantly improve the quality of their employment. On the other hand, Lockwood (2006) maintained that workers who are most committed showed better performance and were unlikely to resign. Akin to our findings, Bhatnagar (2007) showed that organizational culture (internal communication, customer centricity, work culture) and career planning and incentives (recognition, growth opportunities, career development, compensation and promotion) are influential factors of talent management strategy. Iles, Chuai, and Preece (2010) introduced broad strands of thought in talent management which involve “getting the right people in the right job at the right time”, “managing the supply, demand, flow and development of people through the organization”, and “focusing on attracting and retaining key individuals”. They point out different aspects of ‘talent’s way of thinking’ presented in this study to affect ‘talent management strategy’. Moreover, performance, talent involvement, and talent retention are the best talent strategies in the governmental organizations. Involvement is significant; Baumruk (2006) noted that “This is the feeling employees have about being ‘in the loop.’ Employees who feel ‘out of the loop’ suffer in terms of engagement. This is about a manager’s ability to involve employees in decision making, execution and day-to-day change initiatives”. It is claimed that “organizations with higher engagement levels have lower employee turnover, higher productivity and better results” (Baumruk, 2006, pp. 24-7). Pfeffer and Sutton (2006) indicated that the typical human resource management/talent mindset, that views performance outcomes as an opportunity for an “assessment” of ability, results in lower performance and unhappy workers and hence would show low talent engagement. Employee engagement is the most important key to the talent retention (Glen, 2006). The findings support that employee engagement (Bhatnagar, 2007) remarkably affects employee productivity and talent retention. Heinen and O'Neill (2004) demonstrated some of the processes related to talent management such as performance management, career development, succession planning, career planning, and recognition and rewards. Talent requires to be associated with what an organization is attempting to do and key success elements for exceeding in high-level roles, and what top performers do variously in these areas (Coulson-Thomas, 2012). The strength of this study was the Cronbach’s alpha values which were high. The limitation of the research design regards qualitative data collection, which is recommended to be supported by using a quantitative data analysis.



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Acknowledgment: The authors declare that there is no conflict of financial interest.

Funding bodies: Islamic Azad University, Kerman Branch approved this study and had no role in the design and conduct of the study.


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