Foreword – Human Capital Management Challenges in India


Professor Paul Sparrow

This book begins with a paradox: how, in a country with the number of graduates that India has, can people talk about talent shortages? The problem, this book argues, lies in the nature of the education system and, excepting the output from a small number of elite institutions, a low emphasis on critical thinking as a personal competency. Drawing upon work by McKinsey, it is argued that the proportion of the workforce equipped for the demands being placed on Indian industry is relatively small. These sorts of questions resonate beyond India – they are being asked in most of the world’s major marketplaces – and they will be asked by major multinationals of other people’s labour markets. The book raises many questions about a human resource (HR) strategy based on employability.

HR functions need to think more strategically, and ask deep questions about how talent adds value. The book explores the typical frameworks used to link people management to the strategy of organisations. It examines the main drivers behind the human capital management perspective and some of better-known approaches, such as HR accounting and personnel economics. These ideas are converted into a series of practical recommendations.

In so doing, it makes some important distinctions – for example between value creation and value protection, between social value and societal value.

As we think more deeply about talent and talent’s contribution to strategy and business model change, we need to use some novel approaches. Ideas ranging from knowledge management and causal mapping approaches, through to talent assessment processes based on a better understanding of what makes people high-value managers, are all discussed. Understanding the social networks that talent brings to the organisation, the ways in which such talent can be engaged, but also some of the downsides of modern work, such as the ever-increasing mismatch between work and home life, are noted.

In short, this book brings together a wealth of perspectives and conveys how these challenges are all interconnected. Although this book raises the importance of the strategic agenda of HR professionals in India, the content and context applies to the challenges faced by HR professionals globally. The strategic challenges discussed in the book are, therefore, applicable to HR professionals in a wider context..