The war for talent rages! This statement has echoed through public and private organisations worldwide and the end is not in sight. Contemporary public organisations have been plagued by its inability to attract, develop
and retain those truly talented employees. But how is talent defined in the public organisation? In this article the context of talent management in the public organisation will be described. The assumption is that public sector organisations
should be able to implement successful talent management strategies, but only if they are clear regarding the intent of their talent management strategies. The statement presupposes that a public administrative structure and system exists to support talent management. The features of the contemporary public administration will be examined and placed in relationship to the enabling legislative framework that supports talent management. The article explores the context of talent and talent management. The reciprocal relationship that sustains talent management is elaborated upon and inference is drawn from the development of administrative
theory and its emphasis on talent management. The article argues for a third dimension to the contemporary conceptualisation of talent management, namely for a supportive public organisation. In conceptualising talent management as based on a reciprocal relationship to sustain employee/employer ability, motivation
and opportunity, the administration should be seen as an active enabler for the attraction, development and retention of talent. The article concludes with a call towards using talent management as an approach to organisational structuring and functioning, and not merely as a strategy to fulfil current human resource
development gaps or skills shortages.