A situationalist perspective to competency management
Article first published online: 21 AUG 2006
© 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Human Resource Management
Special Issue: Special Issue: Developing and Assessing Professional and Managerial Competence
Volume 45, Issue 3, pages 429–448, Autumn (Fall) 2006
How to Cite
Capaldo, G., Iandoli, L. and Zollo, G. (2006), A situationalist perspective to competency management. Hum. Resour. Manage., 45: 429–448. doi: 10.1002/hrm.20121
- Issue published online: 21 AUG 2006
- Article first published online: 21 AUG 2006
The dominant view in managerial practice assumes that competencies are “universal” constructs whose meaning is independent from any specific context. The “universalist” approach ensures a high degree of efficiency through standardization of competency codebooks. However, the effectiveness of this approach has often been questioned. Overgeneralization makes the description of competencies ambiguous and does not provide HR managers with adequate practical information. An alternative, “situationalist” approach defines competencies as situated, idiosyncratic constructs whose meaning is deeply influenced by organizational culture and by the unique way people make sense of their jobs. We propose a methodological approach to competency management based on a situationalist perspective. Through a field study carried out in a large Italian organization, we discuss the issues relevant to consider when developing competency-management systems though a situationalist approach. In particular, we show that the situationalist approach, by ensuring higher attention to the meaning and to the situated nature of competencies, is more capable of dealing with some of the critical management challenges outlined in the recent literature, such as the demand for more participative approaches and the increasing emphasis on emerging competencies. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.