Job analysis and its role in global talent management (Incl. insights from Japan)

1. The role of job analysis in Global Talent Management

2. Japanese tendencies and the focus on people vs. positions

3. Towards systematic talent identification


1. The role of job analysis in Global Talent Management

The identification of talent is a central aspect of Global Talent Management (GTM) practices in multinational enterprises (MNE’s) [1]. Job analysis respectively competency analysis constitutes a required input for talent identification [2]. However, traditional job analysis that has represented a fundamental necessity for many HR activities seems to have become increasingly outdated [3]. Indeed, the number of current articles about job analysis is decreasing, while, in contrast, related fields such as competency modeling and work analysis describing more broadly and evolving organizational roles are trending [4]. The relative popularity of competency models may be explained by its alignment with organizational strategy and related performance goals [3].

The diminishing relevance of the use of job analysis results such as job descriptions, may come from the shift towards recruitment strategies that are led not by vacancies but rather by onboarding talents to be able to fill strategic roles when they arise. Therefore, rather than looking at existing job tasks, companies strategically may look, especially concerning their leadership competency profiles, for visionary talents who are well connected, cross-culturally skilled, and whose values match well with the firm culture [1].

Another essential consideration in evaluating the utility of job analysis in Talent Management is the level of detail that is elaborated to describe job requirements. While more holistic approaches result in more generic and abstract information convince through their cost-efficiency, the gathering of more detailed data is supporting the judgment process of what specifics contribute to the overall ratings of importance [5]. Researchers argue that the psychometric quality of competency models decline when judgments are based on broad job descriptions [3].

2. Japanese tendencies and the focus on people vs. positions

Japanese talent acquisition practices are strongly shaped by domestic approaches [6], which the interview results of this study also confirm. The identification of skills, abilities, knowledge and other characteristics (KSAOs) informs talents identification. Although methods such as, e.g., job analysis [1] focusing on jobs as a starting point for Talent Management are a promoted view [7], Japanese (multinational) companies tend to work the other way around, i.e., starting with people and then figuring out where to go with the workforce.

The concept of lifetime employment is still alive in Japan. When keeping people is an overarching goal of an organization, job descriptions, and missing job descriptions respectively would limit maneuvering room. Line managers’ expectation rather than job requirement and talent assessment documentation is determining who’s considered to be a talent suitable for what position. This relational focus on work, however, is an important aspect of complex job roles in general and everywhere [8]. However, a tendency towards influencing employee behavior subjectively from manager’s perspective versus a more objective reliance on job descriptions [9] was identified a specific feature of Japanese talent management.

While modern talent approaches may shift from input to a more output-oriented view [7], past achievements (e.g., education and type of university), as well as seniority, are decisive for the employee payments and promotions [10]. On the other side, HR positions often get occupied by staff who is rotated, even against their will. The interview repeatedly pointed to the need for more education to address the lack of HR and talent management capabilities as measured against good global practices and evidenced anecdotic by especially young talents who seem to expect more consideration for their career aspirations. As for job analysis, inexperience, in contrast to carelessness, would not necessarily have to result in low quality judgments though [5].

3. Towards systematic talent identification

Job analysis can uncover needs for improvement in work environments [11] and have positive effects on talent management, such as objective and talent-focusing development. Improper job descriptions leaving employees unclear about their duties and competencies can also lead to legal issues [12]. As, for example, Hitachi demonstrated, the implementation of systematic talent identification and evaluation can improve multinational operations [10]. Albeit talent selection by fixed job characteristics might have become an insufficient method [13], the usage of some work profiles to create good matches between individuals and jobs would be advantageous for staff and organizations alike [14]. A better (psychological) understanding of strategic jobs from an organization’s HR perspective would for sure help underline the importance of talent management [15] in achieving the increasingly complex and global organizational goals.


[1] Scullion, H., & Collings, D. G. (Eds.). (2011). Global talent management. Abington, UK: Routledge.

[2] Lucie, V., Hana, U., & Helena, S. (2016). Identification and Development of Key Talents through Competency Modelling in Agriculture Companies. Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Et Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunensis, Vol 64, Iss 4, Pp 1409-1419 (2016), (4), 1409. doi:10.11118/actaun201664041409

[3] Stevens, G. W. (2013). A critical review of the science and practice of competency modeling. Human Resource Development Review : HRD Review, 12(1), 86-107.

[4] Sanchez, J. I., & Levine, E. L. (2012). The Rise and Fall of Job Analysis and the Future of Work Analysis. Annual Review Of Psychology, 63(1), 397-425. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100401

[5] Morgeson, F. P., Spitzmuller, M., Garza, A. S., & Campion, M. A. (2016). Pay Attention! The Liabilities of Respondent Experience and Carelessness When Making Job Analysis Judgments. Journal Of Management, 42(7), 1904. doi:10.1177/0149206314522298

[6] Conrad, H., & Meyer-Ohle, H. (2017). Overcoming the ethnocentric firm? – foreign fresh university graduate employment in Japan as a new international human resource development method. International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 1-19. doi:10.1080/09585192.2017.1330275

[7] Henry Stewart Talks (Producer) (2012) David Collings: Talent management [Online video]. Retrieved from

[8] Schein, E. H., & Van Maanen, J. (2016). Career anchors and job/role planning: Tools for career and talent management. Organizational Dynamics, 45(3), 165-173. doi:10.1016/j.orgdyn.2016.07.002

[9] Sanchez, J., & Levine, E. (2009). What is (or should be) the difference between competency modelling and traditional job analysis? Human Resource Management Review, 19(2), 53–63.

[10] Yamaguchi, T. (2014). Standardizing HR Practices Around the World. Harvard Business Review, 92(9), 80-81.

[11] Ishihara, I., Yoshimine, T., Horikawa, J., Majima, Y., Kawamoto, R., & Salazar, M. (2004). Defining the roles and functions of occupational health nurses in Japan: results of job analysis. AAOHN Journal, 52(6), 230-241.

[12] Smith, K. J. (2015). Conducting Thorough Job Analyses and Drafting Lawful Job Descriptions. Employment Relations Today (Wiley), 41(4), 95-99. doi:10.1002/ert.21479

[13] Using Rough Set Theory to Recruit and Retain High-Potential Talents for Semiconductor Manufacturing. (2007). IEEE Transactions on Semiconductor Manufacturing, Semiconductor Manufacturing, IEEE Transactions on, IEEE Trans. Semicond. Manufact, (4), 528. doi:10.1109/TSM.2007.907630

[14] Sharp, P. (2011). The LIFE Technique – Creating a Personal Work Profile. Electronic Journal Of Knowledge Management, 9(1), 57-72.

[15] Becker, B. E., & Huselid, M. A. (2010). SHRM and job design: Narrowing the divide. Journal Of Organizational Behavior, 31(2-3), 379-388. doi:10.1002/job.640

About mathias sager

Independent researcher, artist, social entrepreneur, and leadership and strategy advisor I was born in Zurich in 1975 and grew up in Switzerland. Currently, I’m living in Tokyo. I love open-minded people everywhere and the passion to working relentlessly for developing human potential, which is an overarching theme throughout all his work. I have extensive experience in leadership and management, organizational psychology research, and learning & development practice. I have worked as a teacher, a leadership trainer, as well as a senior manager responsible for client relationships, counseling, and virtual teams around the world. Also, I’m a social entrepreneur and serving as a strategy and leadership advisor in different ways. My goal is to inspire with interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural approaches to personal and professional development for the people’s individual well-being and common good alike. Continuously learning himself and keen to help, I appreciate any questions or feedback you may have at any time. Please connect here on any social media, as well as per direct email
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2 Responses to Job analysis and its role in global talent management (Incl. insights from Japan)

  1. SPIRIT says:

    wow, this was really thorough!

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