A study of talent management in the context of Chinese private-owned enterprises

Zhang, Shuai

January 2014

Thesis or dissertation

© 2014 Shuai Zhang. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Talent Management (TM) is still a new research field in China’s context. TM like other management disciplines is often embedded in a certain institutional context and influenced by certain social norms, cultural factors and government policies. TM is therefore closely related to research context. The Chinese cultural context is influential in shaping TM concepts and practices. However, how TM practices are used to retain talents in the context of Chinese private-owned enterprises (POEs) is still a research gap. TM is a holistic strategy for an organisation. It is therefore necessary to explore Chinese POEs’ TM practices through a holistic lens, which covers the processes of defining talents, attracting talents, developing talents and retaining talents. Previous TM studies mainly focused on exploring TM concepts and there is a lack of empirical investigations on TM practices, especially in the context of Chinese POEs. Linked to the characteristics of Chinese POEs and Chinese cultural context, this study explores talent retention from a holistic perspective of TM.

This research adopted an interpretivist perspective and inductive approach. Based on a case study research method, primary and secondary data were collected from three case companies, and analysed qualitatively.

The theoretical framework used in this research is largely based on TM literature. Talent attraction, talent development, and talent retention are used as a lens to view the case companies and to explore what TM activities drive talent retention in the context of Chinese POEs. Organisational commitment is the main theory employed by this research to explore talented individuals’ turnover intention.

Findings show that Chinese guanxi is an important perspective to define talented employees in the context of Chinese POEs. Competence, position, and guanxi are holistically considered to define a talented employee. It was found that guanxi is an important factor influencing the entire TM process, including attracting talents, developing talents and retaining talents. Career development, rewards, and guanxi were significant factors in retaining talented employees in the context of Chinese POEs. Guanxi as a new TM perspective not only makes a theoretical contribution to talent definition but also contributes to talent development and talent retention theories. The research offers practical talent retention suggestions to TM practitioners. A significant practical contribution may be adopting TM practices to develop talented employees’ guanxi ties to increase their organisational commitment and to reduce turnover intention.

Business School, The University of Hull
Bright, David
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University of Hull
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