Article | Harvard Business Review | November 2008

Winning the Race for Talent in Emerging Markets

by Douglas A. Ready, Linda A. Hill and Jay A. Conger

Abstract

"This war for talent is like nothing we've ever seen before," write the authors, who have spent decades studying talent management and leadership development. Recently they interviewed executives at more than 20 global companies to identify strategies for attracting talent in developing economies - where, they learned, brand, opportunity, purpose, and culture play out in particular ways. A desirable brand affiliation in conjunction with inspirational leadership appeals to eager young high potentials suddenly awash in possibilities. Opportunity should imply an accelerated career track - or at least a fast-paced acquisition of skills and experience. Purpose ought to benefit a job candidate's home country and express the value of global citizenship. A company's culture should be meritocratic, value both individual and team accomplishments, and follow through on promises implied in recruitment. The authors claim that emerging markets pose special challenges for foreign multinationals. For instance, talent strategies that work at home will probably need extensive tailoring to succeed in the developing world, and an overreliance on fluency in English may impede spotting talent. It's critical to develop a core of local talent and to embrace and leverage diversity. In the talent race, a local company that creates genuine opportunities and exhibits the desired cultural conditions will often win out over a Western multinational offering higher pay.

Keywords: Leadership Development; Selection and Staffing; Talent and Talent Management; Multinational Firms and Management; Organizational Culture; Recruitment; Diversity Characteristics; Developing Countries and Economies;

Citation:

Ready, Douglas A., Linda A. Hill, and Jay A. Conger. "Winning the Race for Talent in Emerging Markets." R0811C. Harvard Business Review 86, no. 11 (November 2008).