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[Excerpt] Once again, there is buzz about organizations working to apply numbers to managing their talent. The opportunities created by "big data' in human resources (HR), along with the continuous pressure for greater effectiveness and productivity, have renewed calls for more analytical HR management as the way of the future. But we have heard this call in HR many times. We heard it associated with HR accounting in the 1970s (e.g., Flamholtz, 1999), utility analysis in the 1980s (e.g., Boudreau, 1991; Cascio, 1981), HR scorecards in the 1990s (e.g., Becker, Huselid, and Ulrich, 2001), and HR metrics in the 2000s (e.g., Boudreau and Ramstad, 2007). Is there really anything new today or is this just the same old analytical angst wrapped up in fresh and different colorful wrappings? A cynical view of HR's analytical history may suggest recurring rounds of clarion calls for quantifiable approaches to HR, each one leading to a new dead end where the promises of greater sophistication are not fulfilled because of the limitations in the data and decision makers at whom the advances are targeted. In this chapter, however, we argue that this history is indicative of an evolving decision science (Boudreau and Ramstad, 2007). We see the combination of current technologies, past experiences, and varied analytical approaches to HR leading to a new set of emerging methods and tactics. This chapter shows that, while the field of HR is still far from a definitive resolution to its analytical challenges, we can learn from the various efforts to quantify HR, combining and coordinating these efforts to yield a better understanding of the various ways analytical HR processes build upon each other. We argue that the union of past analytical approaches to HR with a recognition of the opportunities presented today, owing to technology and data availability, culminates in what is now known as talent analytics.


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© Oxford University Press. Final version published as: Fink, A. A., & Sturman, M. C. (2017). HR metrics and talent analytics. In D. G. Collings, K. Mellahi, & W. F. Cascio (eds.), Oxford handbook of talent management (pp. 375-395). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.