Competences for Complex Real-World Problems: Toward an Integrative Framework

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Date Published:

Apr 26, 2013


Which competences enable problem solvers to successfully deal with complex real-world challenges such as the current economic and financial crises and in so doing, inspire innovation and sustainable development of society? Despite the importance of these questions, and although competences have become more center stage in management strategy, human resource development, and public policy/public administration research, a general theory of problem solving competence has remained elusive, largely because of insular single-disciplinary approaches. Embedded in a comprehensive review of management strategy, human resource development, and public policy/public administration theories, and by contrasting American and Central-European schools of thought, I discuss the theoretical formulations of previous competence frameworks, the empirical support for these frameworks, and their limitations in solving complex realworld problems. I outline how constituents of competence such as abilities, knowledge, and skills are entrenched within a multifaceted environment and influenced by the individual’s mental model(s). Finally, I develop a five-dimensional framework of competences needed to solve complex real-world problems, which considers both individual and collaborative aspects. The five core dimensions of this new competence framework are (1) personal competence; (2) professional domain competence; (3) systemic competence; (4) creativity competence; and (5) sociocultural (collaborative) competence. This paper is aimed at fostering further theory development and stimulating future research in the field of competence development.


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Last updated on 08/08/2016