Core Competencies' Core Context!

Core Competencies' Core Context!

Leif Marcusson, Siw Lundqvist
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7010-3.ch005
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This chapter stresses the importance of putting core competence in its specific and accurate context to optimize its usefulness. Otherwise, the value might easily erode or even get totally lost. This research highlights core competence in the contexts of recruiting and educating IT project managers. A longitudinal study (2010 – 2013) scrutinized 325 advertisements for IT project managers. A core competence lens was used on the findings to test if such a lens was applicable to the project area (recruitment and training), which it was. This chapter follows-up on the prior research that proposes both recruitment and further training of IT project managers would gain from applying the core competence concept. The main reason for this goes back to understanding the importance of acknowledging the context, and of acting accordingly to reach customer perceived benefits/values. Core competence must be considered in the light of end products and business value.
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In a research prior to this chapter, the authors found that core competence plays a significant role in IT projects and should therefore do so when project managers are recruited (Marcusson & Lundqvist, 2015). Additionally, it should be noted that general competence complements the core competence, and a combination is often appropriate. The earlier findings (Marcusson & Lundqvist, 2015) origin from using Prahalad and Hamel’s (1990) three-step test on Swedish organizations’ advertisements for IT project managers. This chapter presents updated and further developed results from that research.

The authors (Marcusson & Lundqvist, 2015) stated that Prahalad and Hamel’s (1990) three test questions were possible to use as a core competence lens. However, if only one of the test questions was satisfied, the competence was considered to be of a general character, i.e. general competence instead of core competence. Prahalad and Hamel’s three questions concern if the core competence:

  • 1.

    “Provides potential access to a wide variety of markets.”

  • 2.

    “Should make a significant contribution to the perceived customer benefits of the end product.”

  • 3.

    “Should be difficult for competitors to imitate.” (Prahalad & Hamel, 1990 , pp. 83-84).

Based on these three test-questions, the authors (Marcusson & Lundqvist, 2015, pp. 13-14) observed that “The applying of the lens to the study findings resulted in three types of descriptions of competencies:

  • A basic foundation for creating the core product (cf. product development skill)

  • An understanding of how to create the core product (cf. sector knowledge)

  • A support of the work to create the core product (cf. project method experience)”.

Four categories of possible core competences were identified: i) experience, ii) education, iii) knowledge, and iv) work tasks (Table 1).

Table 1.
Core competence (CC) in ads. (Marcusson & Lundqvist, p. 12, 2015)
ExperienceEducationKnowledgeWork Tasks
CC test 1
Access to markets
Business developmentLanguage
CC test 2
End product
Sector, IT, IS, webAcademic degreeSectorProduct development
CC test 3
Difficult to imitate
Project management

Key Terms in this Chapter

Project Manager: A leader of a project.

Core Customer: A customer that give the more part of sale and/or profit.

Core Competence: A competence needed to create the core product.

Core Product: A product that gives possibility to create the end product.

General Competence: Complements core competence and enables production.

Recruitment: A process of attracting and hiring people to perform work in the business.

End Product: A product that customer wants to buy.

Core Value: Governing the business and core product and is based on vision, mission, and strategies.

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