We present a theoretical model that describes the interaction between social and human capital and the different forms that such an interaction may take – positive and negative. Extending the concepts of stocks and flows of knowledge, this model evaluates social capital flows against human capital stocks. When we compare these flows to the value of human capital, we are able to better understand how these resources can interact with each other, influence global talent development, and change over time. We discuss the implications for practices in global talent management in selecting, developing, and harnessing talent.
Existing conceptualizations of global talent and talent management have a tendency to be human capital centric and focus on the target, or whom should be considered talented (Al Ariss, Cascio, & Paauwe, 2014; Meyers & van Woerkom, 2014; Nijs, Gallardo-Gallardo, Dries, & Sels, 2014; Sonnenberg, van Zijderveld, & Brinks, 2014). For example, Tarique and Schuler (2010) describe global talent management (GTM) as the practices “that attract, develop, and retain individuals with high levels of human capital” (p. 124). Other views label talent as “generic” (Lewis & Heckman, 2006) or “unique” (Lepak & Snell, 1999), taking for granted the composition of talent and how that composition is derived. Further, when talent development is considered, it usually consists of examining the individual characteristics of executives that enable their placement in global talent positions (e.g. Caligiuri, 2006; Caligiuri & Tarique, 2009; Mendenhall, Reiche, Bird, & Osland, 2012). These theories of talent focus excessively on human capital and fail to address the relational dimensions of talent (Al Ariss et al., 2014; Tarique & Schuler, 2010). The prevalence of GTM research that primarily focuses on human capital largely mirrors the abundance of organizations that employ a human capital centric approach to talent management (TM) (Cross, Opie, Pryor, & Rollag, 2017). In recent years, GTM scholars have begun to advocate that international human resource management (IHRM) processes and tools include a greater focus on social capital. Some have suggested that IHRM should play a stronger role in managing social capital, developing the social capital and boundary-spanning roles required for businesses to operate on a global scale (Farndale, Scullion, & Sparrow, 2010; WangCowham, 2011). Others have urged researchers to consider TM as a relational construct (e.g., Al Ariss et al., 2014) and have highlighted the benefits of accumulating social capital through international assignments (Reiche, 2012). These scholars recognize the importance of social capital for GTM in facilitating knowledge transfer and improving coordination across global units (Bozkurt & Mohr, 2011). Although firms value human and social capital, without a clearer understanding of how these two forms of capital interact, those responsible for managing talent may not be able to optimize their effects. For example, firms may identify high performers or subject matter experts but fail to encourage the development of the requisite social capital to help disseminate the value of their human capital throughout units of the multinational enterprise (MNE). The “globalization of talent brings with it a requirement to create new [human resource management] tools, methods and processes necessary for coordination and global integration” (Farndale et al., 2010 p. 162).