Talent Management in Learning Organizations



Continuous improvement by firms is a key to their survival in today’s highly competitive business environment. Firms are pushing themselves hard to stay ahead of their competitors. But does these efforts limited to sales or marketing of their products or setting of up new franchises only? Well! The answer is No. What and how organizations learn from its past need to be reflected both internally and externally. One such learning expectation is how organizations improvises their human resource practices, particularly the talent management strategies. Garvin criticized existing literature on learning organizations and stated that most of the scholarly discussions on learning organizations are philosophy and filled with sweeping metaphors (Garvin et al., 2008). What existing literature on learning organization lacks are suggestions that could go beyond cosmetic changes and short-lived strategies for organizations. Efficient talent management strategies are one such avenues that is believed to deliver stability and sustainability to those organizations that constantly strive to improve (Learning organizations) (Hassan et al., 2021; Oltra and Vivas-López, 2013). 
Talent Management research continues to grow in importance due to an increase in the organizational needs to meet the challenges of managing talent effectively in order to achieve their strategic agendas (Hassan et al., 2021; Collings, Scullion, & Caligiuri, 2019; McDonnell, Collings, Mellahi, & Schuler, 2017). Talent Management can be seen as the activities and processes to facilitate a systematic attraction, identification, development, deployment, engagement, and retention of talents which are of particular value (competitive advantage) for organizations (Collings & Mellahi, 2009; Gallardo-Gallardo et al., 2020). Despite considerable amount of ongoing research on TM, businesses continue to face complexities in managing talent due to an ever increasing market volatility and fast-changing political landscape (Collings, McDonnell, & McMackin, 2017).
While talents are seen as unique strategic resources central to achieve organizational objectives (Collings & Mellahi, 2009; Scullion & Collings, 2011) in practice, a scarcity of key skills and capabilities have been identified as a major constraint to the growth of many organizations, exacerbated in emerging markets due to acute talent shortages (Gallardo-Gallardo et al., 2020; Horwitz & Budhwar, 2015). TM agendas are increasingly driven by international agendas and are still mainly designed around corporate needs (Sparrow, Scullion, & Tarique, 2014). Research also highlights the need to balance organizational and individual talent perspectives to achieve effective implementation (Björkman, Ehrnrooth, Mäkelä, Smale, & Sumelius, 2013; Farndale, Pai, Sparrow, & Scullion, 2014). Studies on TM is apparently very scattered and focus of discussion highly varying in terms of the organization type and context. 
This calls for papers aim at initiating a critical debate on TM practices particularly in learning organizations. Limited available research on TM in learning organizations have highlights the distinctive nature of such practices and the challenges involved. Oltra and Vivas-López (2013) emphasised on the need to link TM with learning organizations as this would highlight how learning is institutionalized by organizations and what role workplace would place in such institutionalization of learning. Ever changing business dynamics invariably means more demands for structures and practices within business organizations that fosters the genesis and application of new knowledge. An effective talent attraction, development and retention strategy in business organization particularly learning organization would mean such organizations can harness the potential of efficiently chosen workforce in gaining competitive advantage (Vivas-López et al., 2011; Vaiman and Vance, 2010). To be called a ‘learning organization’ is synonymous with collective efforts to reach organization-shared vision. Choosing and retaining the right talent by organization is believed to facilitate effort to achieve share-values. It is interesting to observe that very few efforts have been made in the past to understand the interaction of talent management with learning organization. Only a handful literature is available on the topic and therefore, it calls for further research in the domain. Theoretical and empirical research on TM in Learning organizational help us understand some key issues currently being faced by the business. It would provide an insight on the nature and characteristics of talent management practices in learning organization. Ideally, the practices should significantly differ from traditional business organization. For example, traditional organizations rely on hierarchy and power to manage conflicts at workplace. Unlike this approach, learning organizations promote collective bargaining and collaborative learning to integrate diverse set of views. Similarly, learning organizations promote shared values through delegation of power among the employees. Unlike this, traditional organizations rely on organization leaders to set values and precedence (Su-Chao and Ming-Shing, 2007). It would be interesting to see how talent management strategies such as “Make versus Buy/Lease” (i.e., promoting an internal talent or brining an outsider) approach can shape the way learning organizations would operate.  
Second, we do not have adequate literature and theories and conceptual frameworks explaining the intersection of talent management and learning organization. Conceptual frameworks and reviews of existing literature would highlight existing gaps and provides necessary guidance for future research.
Third, current research on learning organizations is largely focused on a specific geographical or business context. Contexts such as emerging economies, or newer businesses such as the business of sports or non-profit organizations have not gained much attention of the scholars. Investigating talent management practices in learning organizations from the above perspectives would open set a new debate on the effectiveness of existing practices in these organizations.

List of Topic Areas:

The guest editors invites both theoretical and empirical works on talent management in learning organizations. Case studies, survey research, qualitative studies, literature reviews and conceptual papers on the following topics (Tentative list only) can been deemed suitable for the special issue.

  • Talent attraction and learning organizations.
  • Talent development and learning organizations.
  • Challenges of retaining talents in learning organizations: problems and solutions.
  • Implications of talent management in learning organizations on various stakeholders (both internal and external).
  • Managing talent for learning organizations in newer forms of business such as the business of sports.
  • Talent management, knowledge-based view and learning organization.
  • Review of literature on talent management for learning organizations.
  • Organizational theory and managing people in learning organizations.
  • Talent management in learning organizations: Designing curriculum for future managers.
  • Managing talent in entrepreneurial learning ventures.
  • Learning organizations, talent management and gig economy.
  • Managing diversity and inclusion in learning organizations.
  • Compensating the talent in learning organization.
  • Learning organizations, talent management and organizational resilience.
  • Dark side of talent management in learning organizations.
  • Talent management for global learning organizations. 
  • Talent management practices in learning organizations in emerging market businesses. 
  • Managing the future of talent management in learning organizations.
  • Paradoxes of talent management in learning organizations.
  • Micro Foundations of Talent Management practices for learning organizations.
  • Learning organizations, voluntary sector organization and the search for best fit.
  • Talent mobility, and organizational challenges-Learning organization perspective.

Guest Editors: 

Dr Yusuf Hassan, Assistant Professor-University of Birmingham, [email protected]

Dr Anuja  Akhouri, Assistant Professor-Indian Institute of Management Jammu, [email protected]

Submissions Information:

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/tlo

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see: https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/tlo#author-guidelines

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key Dates: 

Opening date: 20/12/2022
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 31/07/2023    
Closing date for abstract submission: 31/12/2022 (Optional)

Email for submissions: [email protected], [email protected]


Garvin, D.A., Edmondson, A.C. and Gino, F., 2008. Is yours a learning organization? Harvard business review, 86(3), p.109.

Oltra, V. and Vivas-López, S., 2013. Boosting organizational learning through team-based talent management: what is the evidence from large Spanish firms? The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24(9), pp.1853-1871.

Hassan, Y., Pandey, J., Varkkey, B., Sethi, D. and Scullion, H., 2021. Understanding talent management for sports organizations-Evidence from an emerging country. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, pp.1-34.

Vivas-López, S., Peris-Ortiz, M. and Rueda-Armengot, C., 2011. Managing talent for organisational learning. European Journal of International Management, 5(5), pp.540-557.

Su-Chao, C. and Ming-Shing, L., 2007. A study on relationship among leadership, organizational culture, the operation of learning organization and employees' job satisfaction. The Learning Organization, 14(2), p.155.

Vaiman, V. and Vance, C. eds., 2010. Smart talent management: building knowledge assets for competitive advantage. Edward Elgar Publishing.