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The International Journal of Human Resource Management

Special Issue

Deadline: 30 July 2020

Evaluating Talent Management in Emerging Market Economies: Societal, Firm and Individual Perspectives

The objective of the special issue is to advance our understanding of talent management in emerging market economies. As we outline below, emerging economies are important players in the global economy, and while there is considerable diversity across the economies there is little doubt that the institutional and cultural realities of doing business in these economies is different to the western context from when many of the key theories underpinning talent management have been developed. The special issue intends to consider key questions at societal, firm and individual levels in the emerging market context.

A core characteristic of emerging markets is that they are countries with a low level of material well-being and income on the one hand, but on the other hand, many are experiencing rapid growth. However, the relationship between macro-economic policy prescriptions and growth remains uncertain, probably due to the importance of micro-economic and related factors (Edwards, 1993; Popov, 2018). Between 2004 to 2014 outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) from emerging markets (EM) increased by 317 percent compared to the preceding decade (Luo and Zhang, 2016). The World Bank defines emerging economies as those that have a Gross National Income per capita of less than US$ 11,905 (Marquis and Raynard, 2015).  Another characteristic of developing markets is institutional fluidity, which means businesses rely more intensively on a relational-based strategy and invest heavily in developing relationships and business networks (Meyer and Peng, 2016; Luo and Zhang, 2016; Wood and Frynas, 2005).

Emerging markets multinational enterprises (EMNE) have distinct characteristics from their developed country counterparts (Pereira & Malik, 2018). We have, over the last two decades, witnessed the rise of newer globally renowned and established EMNEs such as Huawei, Lenovo, Cemex, Tata which have become global blue chip organizations (Munjal, Budhwar and Pereira, 2018). There is increasing recognition that the success of these global EMNEs largely depends on their talent pool i.e. their human capital and human resources management. However, little is known about how talent is managed at different levels i.e. at macro (country level), meso (industry level) and micro (organisation level), within emerging economies.    

The nature of labour markets is also distinct in emerging markets (see contributions in Vaiman, Sparrow, Schuler & Collings, 2018). In the Middle East, for example, governments invested heavily in nurturing local talent, but for demographic, cultural and ideological reasons the labour markets still rely on expatriate talent at both the higher and lower end of the economy and like in many other emerging markets, social networks are central to accessing employment opportunities (see Budhwar, Pereira, Mellahi and Singh, 2018). Many emerging economies further suffer from brain drain as the best and brightest employees often migrate to developed economies in search of opportunities (Cooke, 2018). In China, India and Malaysia employers rely on external labour markets, as opposed to internal development, for talent and high levels of talent poaching amongst firms, mean that firms are not incentivised to invest in talent (Zheng, Soosay & Hyland, 2007; Cooke, Saini &Wang, 2014).

These trends highlight the importance of understanding talent management at the societal, firm and individual levels (Collings, Mellahi & Cascio, 2019) in the context of emerging markets.  Indeed, it has been recognised that talent management challenges are more acute and more complex in the emerging markets (Cooke, 2018; Yeung, Warner and Rowley, 2008). Talent management is increasingly recognised as an important management technique globally (Cappelli, 2008; Collings, Scullion and Vaiman, 2011). Collings and Mellahi (2009) suggest effective talent management involves the systematic identification of the critical positions that have the greatest impact on competitive advantage, developing talent pools of high performing and high potential individuals that can fill these positions and then utilising a differentiated HR architecture to facilitate the identification, motivation, development and overall management of these talent. While this has become the most widely adopted definition to talent management, it is interesting to consider how applicable this definition might be in the context of emerging markets.

Based on the above discussion, this special issue therefore encourages submissions from a broad range of perspectives at individual, firm and country level of analysis that address questions around talent management in the context of emerging markets. We welcome submissions from a range of methodological perceptive and particularly encourage multi-level analyses.

Country level

  • What impact does state ownership/intervention have on talent management in emerging markets?
  • To what extent are talent management practices converging versus diverging in emerging markets?
  • How do local labour market conditions impact on talent management in emerging economies?
  • How do immigration policies impact on talent availability?
  • How are educational systems evolving in emerging markets in response to evolving talent requirements at firm level?

 Firm level

  • How does talent management contribute to performance in emerging markets?
  • How do emerging market multinationals balance global standardization versus local implementation of talent management?
  • How are emerging market firms adapting to emerging talent trends such as the gig economy and a more open global talent market?
  • How do emerging market firms engage with key stakeholders in building talent capability in the local context?
  • What are the ethical issues and organizational responsibilities in talent management in emerging markets?

Individual level

  • What are the career expectations of talent in emerging markets?
  • What factors determine the attractiveness of employers amongst employees in emerging markets?
  • How can we understand the motivations of high talent diaspora in returning to their home countries?


The International Journal of Human Resource Management

Visit Journal Articles


  • Submission Deadline: July 30, 2020

  • Revised article deadline (first round): December 1, 2020           

  • Revised article deadline (second round): May 2021

  • Deadline to the publishers: July 2021       


Editorial Information

Vijay Pereira, (PhD): Associate Professor of Strategic and International HRM at Khalifa University, UAE.

David Collings: Professor of Human Resource Management and Associate Dean for Research at Dublin City University, Ireland. 

Geoffrey Wood: Professor of International Business and Dean of Essex Business School, UK.

Kamel Mellahi, (PhD): Senior editor for JWB and associate editor for BJM and JMD and sits on a number of editorial boards including JIBS, HRMJ, among others.



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Budhwar, P., Pereira, V., Mellahi, K., & Singh, S. K. (2018). The state of HRM in the Middle East: Challenges and future research agenda. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 1-29.
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