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A. Svensson, L. Berndtsson

University West (SWEDEN)
Small and medium-sized enterprises can have strategies and processes for their performance management, and for how to manage the talent of its workforce (Baron & Armstrong, 2007). This has been of increased importance in rural cross-border regions where the inhabitants show relatively low education levels, and where some younger people move to universities and jobs in urban regions. It is therefore important for SMEs in rural cross-border regions to identify the knowledge of the workforce and retain and use the knowledge in an effective way in order to be successful. The aim of this paper is to analyze how companies in the cross-border region of Norway and Sweden perform their talent management.

Many companies are not aware of who their talent is, and judgements about the individuals working in a company are often arbitrary, inconsistent and based and hearsay (Sorcher & Brant, 2002). Many companies face talent management challenging, especially when it comes to the alignment of the business strategy with the talent strategy, development of people and the people’s responsiveness to change. The aim of this paper is thus to elaborate on how processes of talent management can be performed to strengthen the competitiveness in companies in a rural cross-border region, the region of Bohuslän and Dalsland in Sweden and Östfold in Norway.
This paper is based on a qualitative study of a few companies in the cross-border region of Sweden and Norway. Semi-structured interviews have been conducted with administrative and HR managers in three different companies. Content analysis has been used in order to find relevant themes of talent management in a cross-border rural region.

The results of the study shows that people often stay on their jobs for many years in rural regions. People are not so inclined to change jobs, and this leads to the fact that they are familiar with the workplace and with their colleagues, as well as they are responsible and know their job very well. However, the conditions can be changed rapidly, as many companies are exposed to worldwide competition, and new knowledge and competence can be needed. Companies are increasingly face that they are forced to be aware of the importance of talent management. It could then be helpful for companies to use a performance grid in the talent management process. The team manager has dialogues with each worker, and plot the workers into a performance grid. The performance grid helps the manager to evaluate people based on performance and potential. This should help to guide the manager to take actions to further develop the team’s performance. Thus, the performance grid will then help to take actions intended to developing the talented people in order to increase the performance of the company and the same time increase people’s work satisfaction.