Talent development in China: human resource managers’ perception of the value of the MBA
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 18:09 authored by Yibing (Ebin) Zhang
As the topic of Talent Development (TD) gets more research attention in Western business, the need for understanding the nature and the scope of TD activities in an Eastern business context increases. This study investigated the perceptions of HR managers in Chinese firms of the value of different TD practices with Chinese firms, with specific attention to the perceived value of the MBA as a TD practice. Adopting a semi-structured interview method, this qualitative research involved sixteen interviews with HR managers from MNCs (Multi-national companies), Locals (Local private companies) and JV (Joint ventures) in Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai. A five-dimension model of human capital: scholastic capital, social capital, culture capital, inner-value capital and market-value capital, developed by Useen & Karable (1986) and Baruch (2009) was adopted as the theoretical model to guide the evaluation of HR managers’ perceptions of the MBA. The first finding of this study revealed that although, all 16 participants’ organisations adopted an “exclusive-developable” perspective towards talent and TD, there was a lack of clarity about how to define “talent”. Each of the HR managers preferred their own ways to identify the potential of talent. HR managers from Local firms mostly focused on measurements carrying strong features of organizational culture, while the MNC respondents stressed the importance of psychological assessment with quantitative measurements. The second finding indicated a number of TD practices implemented in these organisations, among which “on-the-job training” appeared to be the most widely adopted and the most effective method. Although MBA sponsoring program has become less popular than it used to be, findings showed an overall improvement in all five human capital dimensions gained from MBA. Of the five values, scholastic capital and social capital were perceived as the highest values received. Meanwhile, findings also suggested a decline in culture capital and market-value capital value of MBA in the past 5-10 years. In general, compared with MNC counterparts, Local HR managers perceived higher value from MBA programs. Another noteworthy finding was that both national culture and institutional culture influenced TD implementation as well as the perceived value gained from the MBA. In particular, Confucian values, such as “respect education and scholars” and “importance of Guanxi” played an important role on talent strategies and TD practices in China. However, Western management values has also a significant impact on the business management philosophies of the Chinese organisations, especially within the MNCs. Considering the lack of empirical studies in a Chinese context and lack of focusing on HR professionals’ perspectives in this field, this study can contribute to ongoing research and practice of TD. The implications may help to position and redesign future TD programs in Chinese and Eastern context. It may also provide insights for MBA providers to reorganize the curriculum to address changing perceptions of the value of the MBA.