Practice on entrepreneurial competencies for entrepreneurship education (Schelfout et

Practice
and research on competence has historically been driven by aspirations to
achieve superior performance which, in turn, are thought to lead to business
success or financial gain (Spencer & Spencer, 1993). Presently however, most
research on competence is found in the educational literature; e.g. research on
competencies for sustainable development (Lozano et al., 2017; Lambrechts et
al., 2013; Barth et al., 2007) and research on entrepreneurial competencies for
entrepreneurship education (Schelfout et al., 2016; Mindt & Rieckmann,
2017). For example, increasing the entrepreneurial competencies of the
population is a part of many national entrepreneurship education strategies
worldwide (Lilleväli & Täks, 2017).

One of the
key challenges in the competence literature is the lack of consensus on how to
define 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 used
interchangeably in the literature (Smith and Morse, 2005). According to
Mitchelmore & Rowley (2010), there are at least two main uses for the term
competency: competency (y-ending) as the behavior that an individual
demonstrates and competence (e-ending) as minimum standards of performance (Strebler,
1997).

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Historically,
competency (y-ending) has been preferred in the United States, where it has
been understood as an underlying characteristic of a person. This underlying
characteristic is something which results in effective action and therefore
better job performance (Mitchelmore & Rowley, 2010). Competence (e-ending)
has been preferred in the United Kingdom, and its development has been a focus of
the 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 within
an occupational area (Cheng and Dainty, 2003). In addition, a more recently
used definition of competence is as behavior resulting from the combined sets
of ‘knowledge, skills and attitudes’ which are important for carrying out the
task at hand, within the relevant context (Wesselink & Wals, 2011; Bartram
et al., 2002; Bartram, 2005).