Practiceand research on competence has historically been driven by aspirations toachieve superior performance which, in turn, are thought to lead to businesssuccess or financial gain (Spencer & Spencer, 1993). Presently however, mostresearch on competence is found in the educational literature; e.g. research oncompetencies for sustainable development (Lozano et al., 2017; Lambrechts etal., 2013; Barth et al.
, 2007) and research on entrepreneurial competencies forentrepreneurship education (Schelfout et al., 2016; Mindt & Rieckmann,2017). For example, increasing the entrepreneurial competencies of thepopulation is a part of many national entrepreneurship education strategiesworldwide (Lilleväli & Täks, 2017). One of thekey challenges in the competence literature is the lack of consensus on how todefine competence (Mitchelmore & Rowley, 2010; Hayton & McEvoy, 2006;Le Deist & Winterton, 2005; Hoffmann, 1999). In addition, terms such as”skills”, “expertise”, “acumen” and “competency” are sometimes usedinterchangeably in the literature (Smith and Morse, 2005). According toMitchelmore & Rowley (2010), there are at least two main uses for the termcompetency: competency (y-ending) as the behavior that an individualdemonstrates and competence (e-ending) as minimum standards of performance (Strebler,1997). Historically,competency (y-ending) has been preferred in the United States, where it hasbeen understood as an underlying characteristic of a person.
This underlyingcharacteristic is something which results in effective action and thereforebetter job performance (Mitchelmore & Rowley, 2010). Competence (e-ending)has been preferred in the United Kingdom, and its development has been a focus ofthe UK government since 1988 through the Management Charter Initiative (ibid.).In this context, competence has been understood to describe the actions,behaviors and/or outcomes which a person should be able to demonstrate withinan occupational area (Cheng and Dainty, 2003). In addition, a more recentlyused definition of competence is as behavior resulting from the combined setsof ‘knowledge, skills and attitudes’ which are important for carrying out thetask at hand, within the relevant context (Wesselink & Wals, 2011; Bartramet al., 2002; Bartram, 2005).