Talent Development as an Alternative to Orthodox Career Thinking: The Scandinavian Case

Henrik Holt Larsen, Jette Schramm-Nielsen and Inger Stensaker

in The Oxford Handbook of Lifelong Learning

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195390483
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Talent Development as an Alternative to Orthodox Career Thinking: The Scandinavian Case

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This chapter argues that orthodox career thinking–which focuses on vertical progression to higher-level managerial positions—is suffering from three shortcomings. First, it is insufficient to explain career dynamics in modern knowledge organizations. Second, it does not see strategic organizational change as a catalyst for career and disregards the importance of experiential learning on the job. Third, it does not incorporate how career is embedded in the organizational and cultural context, including a wide range of national, institutional features. Based on this, the chapter suggests that we move the focus from narrow career thinking to the more broad-banded concept of talent. The talent concept signifies any kind of outstanding competence of an individual (whether it is managerial or any kind of significant specialist field) which is strategically important to the organization, difficult to achieve, difficult to replace by other types of resources, and difficult to replicate by competitors. Also, a broader definition of how talent can be developed is needed, as it should encompass informal and experiential methods as well as formal education. The broader concept of talent is discussed in relation to the Scandinavian context, which consists of many highly educated knowledge workers.

Keywords: Experiential learning; career development; talent development; lifelong learning; Scandinavia

Article.  11177 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Educational Psychology

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