Original Research - Special Collection: Navigating Talent in a Disruptive World

Meaning in motion: Evolving images of talent in organisations in a disruptive world

Lidewey van der Sluis, Emmerentia N. Barkhuizen
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 49 | a2099 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v49i0.2099 | © 2023 Lidewey van der Sluis, Nicolene E. Barkhuizen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 March 2023 | Published: 29 November 2023

About the author(s)

Lidewey van der Sluis, Nyenrode Business University, Breukelen, Netherlands
Emmerentia N. Barkhuizen, Centre for Work Performance, College of Business and Administration, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, concurrent with Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), introduces a new work environment and vocabulary that challenges traditional talent management (TM) thought processes, taxonomies, and practices. As a result, we must reconstruct the meanings of workplace talent and TM to ensure business continuity in a disrupted workplace.

Research purpose: The main objective of this research was to investigate the current thought processes and meanings associated with the concepts of talent and TM as catalysts for enhancing meaningful work experiences in a volatile workplace.

Motivation for the study: Research exploring the meaning of talent and TM as a two-way approach in the new world of work is yet forthcoming.

Research approach/design and method: A literature review was conducted to synthesise a shared comprehension of the meaning of talent and TM in the new work environment and their practical applications.

Main findings: The findings reveal that the current definitions of talent and TM are ambiguous and contradictory. Consequently, there are numerous dichotomies regarding the most practical method of implementing TM during a crisis. From a multi-value perspective, talent provides valuable insights into how talent and TM practices can be optimised in a world of work characterised by disruption.

Practical/managerial implications: Leaders and talent practitioners must reimagine and transform TM practices for sustainable and meaningful individual and organisational impact.

Contribution/value-add: This paper provides novel and unique insights into how talent can best be optimised in the new world of work.


4IR; COVID-19 pandemic; meaning; talent; talent management

JEL Codes

J24: Human Capital • Skills • Occupational Choice • Labor Productivity

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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