Management Faculty Publications and Presentations

Competency modeling: A theoretical and empirical examination of the strategy dissemination process

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One of the most important functions of a competency model is to translate organizational strategy into employee behavior. Yet, virtually no theoretical attempts to elucidate this process exist, and no empirical evidence has been offered demonstrating that it occurs. Drawing on the strategic management literature, we develop a conceptual framework delineating this process. We theorize that structurally distributed knowledge, attention, and behavior results in coalitions of individuals at different hierarchical levels (top managers vs employees) developing different dominant logics. These differences across levels in habituated modes of processing information and conceptualizing roles impact the initial importance assigned to competencies that are added to the model as an organization's strategy evolves. However, over time, competency models enable top managers to drive their dominant logic downward through the organization. As the importance of certain competencies is reinforced through performance management, schemata of high-performers shift, becoming better aligned with those of top managers'. Using data from focus groups, surveys, and archives collected at two points in time (6 years apart) capturing change in the strategy of an organization of professional jobs in the U.S. government (n = 218), results were supportive. We then use our model to generate an agenda of research questions and topics to enhance competency modeling scholarship.


© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Human Resource Management