Talent management today: the Kajsa Asplund interview

Anthony Haynes writes: At various times we’ve reviewed content from Kajsaasplund.com. Here we’re delighted to publish a review with the blog’s author, Kajsa Asplund. Kajsa is a psychologist and PhD candidate in management at Stockholm School of Economics.

  1. What can you tell us about your background in industry?

KA: I have a background in consultancy, working with assessment and psychometric testing for recruitment and selection. For a number of years,

I was also part of a Stockholm-based consultancy firm founded by a group of young psychologists, where we used psychological research and digital tools to create more effective organisational change and development.

I have always been drawn to the intersection between psychology and working life.

  1. What are you doing now?

KA: I am currently pursuing my PhD in management at Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), where I am part of a research project focusing on talent management. My own research focuses on the effects on employees of being selected – or not being selected – as a talent or high-potential. We still have a limited understanding of whether talent programs really fulfil their aim of accelerating development and increasing loyalty, so that is what I am trying to find out.

I am also engaged in a research project focusing on talent diversity within the finance sector. Apart from that, I teach HRM and organisational psychology to both students and executives at SSE.

  1. What do you see as the hottest topics in your field(s)?

KA: The whole talent management spectrum attracts a lot of attention at the moment. Employees are now organisations’ most valuable resource, and companies are eager to know the best ways to develop and keep them.

Furthermore, we see a lot happening within performance management, where many companies have gotten rid of their annual performance review. The problem, however, is to decide what should take its place, and here we will see a lot of debate in the near future.

Finally, work engagement is gaining increasing traction in both research and practice. The problem with this term, however, is that it is thrown around in all kinds of contexts to the extent that no one finally remembers what it means. Here I would say researchers can play a key role setting the concept straight.

  1. What is your thinking behind the blog?

KA: The broad aim is to provide research-based insights on current and relevant topics within HRM and work psychology, in an appetising format.

I usually write series of three or four posts on one topic, and when I start writing them I envision taking the reader on a U-shaped journey: I start out with a hyped concept, such as millennials or work engagement, and then I problematise it and show that it is not as straight-forward as we might think.

Then, when we have “sobered up” and grasped the complexity of the issue, I move on up again by showing that it is still possible to draw out very concrete, rigorous advice from research.

Hopefully, I leave the reader a little less certain but more informed.

  1. What is the relationship between your blogging and your research?

The whole idea of a dissertation project is to go really deep on one specific issue, which is in many regards a luxury. However, as a person I tend to be very broadly interested in issues related to work psychology and like to think about the bigger picture.

The blog offers me a forum for delving on topics that do not fit into my dissertation project, but that I anyhow come across as a researcher.

Further, it allows me to try out ideas and lines of thought in a freer way, which can often feed into my research later. And of course, at times I write straight on about the things I do in research.

Our thanks to Kajsa Asplund for kindly featuring in this interview.

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