What is Competence?

Françoise Delamare Le Deist, Jonathan Winterton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

747 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the definitions and usage of competence, especially in the context of training and development initiatives in the USA, UK, France and Germany, seeking to clarify the concept by incorporating knowledge, skills and competences within a holistic competence typology. One-dimensional frameworks of competence are inadequate and are giving way to multi-dimensional frameworks. Functional and cognitive competences are increasingly being added to behavioural competencies in the USA, while in the UK cognitive and behavioural competences are being added to the occupational functional competence model. France, Germany, and Austria entering the arena more recently, adopted from the outset more holistic, but different, approaches. After comparing these approaches, we argue that a holistic framework is useful in identifying the combination of competences that are necessary for particular occupations and to promote labour mobility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-46
Number of pages20
JournalHuman Resource Development International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


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