Understanding Changing Competence Demands

  • Peter Docherty
  • Christer Marking


Our basic notion about the determinants of competence in a business organisation is illustrated in Figure 1. The main determinants of the competencies needed are considered to be the business idea, the available technology, the work organisation and the people employed. Clearly, core skills and competencies vary with the business idea. Work organisation and technology are chosen to create the means to fulfil the overall business idea. Very often these choices are dependent on dominating contemporary “models” of best practice. People are recruited according to the needs of the other determinants — it is very seldom that individuals, even if they are unique, innovate organisations. Still there is no one-to-one relation between the different components in the model. There is considerable freedom of choice when determining the work organisation, even if the technology is considered as given.


Production Worker Work Organisation Business Idea Creative Learning Shop Floor Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    The American social psychologist Chris Argyris defines the terms “espoused theories”, i.e. the theories or ideas that a person openly states are the bases for their actions, and “theories in practice”, i.e. the ideas and theories emerging from an analysis of what that person does in practice. See Argyris, C. & Schön, D. (1978) Organisational Learning: A Theory of Action in Perspective. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bright, J.C. (1958) Automation and Management. Boston: Division of Research, Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard UniversityGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Drucker, P. (1950) The New Society. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Noble, D. (1978) The Design of America, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bainbridge, L.(1983) “Ironies of Automation”. In Johansson, G. & Rijnsdorf, J.E. (Eds.) Analysis. Design and Evaluation of Man-Machine Systems. Oxford: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Volpert, W. (1986) “Contrastive analysis of the relationship between man and computer as a basis for system design”. In Docherty, P. et al. (Eds.) System Design for Human Development and Productivity: Participation and Beyond. Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Senker, P. (1992) “Automation and Work in Britain”. In Alder, P. (ed.) The Future of Work and Technology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Choice, K. (1984) Human Resource Development on the Shop Floor in Contemporary Japan. Stockholm: ArbetslivscentrumGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cole, R. (1992) “Issues in Skill Formation in Japanese Approaches to Automation”. In Adler, P. (Ed.) The Future of Work and Technology. New York: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Selznick, P. (1949) TVA and the Grassroots. Berkeley: University of California Press and Selznick, P. (1957) Leadership in Administration. Evanston, III.: Row and Peterson.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hamel, G. and Prahalad, C.K. (1993) “Strategy as Stretch and Leverage”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 71, No. 2, p. 75–84Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Senge, P.M. (1990), The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation. New York: DoubledayGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Leonard-Barton, D. (1992) “Core Capabilities and Core Rigidities: A Paradox in Managing New Product Development”, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 13, pp. 111–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Docherty, P. & Dilschmann, A. (1992) Lärande med förhinder: När teknik stöd blir teknikstyrning. Stockholm Arbetsmiljöfonden MDArapport 1992:12.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Nyhan, B.(1993) Emerging Patterns of Qualification and Learning. Presentation at the European Centre for Work and Society Workshopin Dublin in December, 1993.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nordhaug, O. (1993) Human Capital in Organisations: Competence, Training, and Learning. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Forsberg, B. (1992) Lärande arbeten i teorin: en analys av förutsättningar för meningsfulla lärprocesser i arbetet med utgångspunkt i fyra olika forskningstraditioner. Stockholm: Arbetsmiljöfonden, Programmet för lärande organisationerGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lillrank, P.(1994) T-50 på ABB-ett svenskt svar på den japanska utvecklingen. Stockholm: European Institue for Japanese Economic Studies och Arbetsmiljöfondens program för Lärande organisationer.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Barker, J.R.(1993) “Tightening the Iron Cage: Concertive Control in Self-Managing Teams”. Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3, pp. 408–437; Weick, K.E. and Roberts, K.H. (1993) Collective Mind in Organizations: Heedful Interrelating on Flight Decks. Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3, pp. 357–381. The news is not the development of “cognitive control systems” per se. These have been reported long ago, e.g. in geographically dispersed organisations (cf. Kaufman, H. (1960) The Forest Ranger: A Study in Administrative Behavior. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University and Resources for the Future Inc.) It is rather the renewed interest in and conscious, widespread adoption of the strategy that is new.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 21.
    Schumann, M. (1990) “Changing Concepts of Work and Qualifications” in Warner, M., Wobbe, W. and Brödner, P. (eds) New Technology and Manufacturing Management. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    Docherty, P. (1990) IT and Organizational Change in Sweden. Paper to the MIT Activity Meeting 22/23 November 1990, Public Management Service (PUMA), OECD, Paris.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Hirschhorn, L. and Mokray, J. (1992) “Automation and Competency Requirements in Manufacturing: A Case Study” in Adler (ed.) Technology and the Future of Work. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Kolb, D.A. (1964) Experiential Learning: Experience as a Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-HallGoogle Scholar
  24. 25.
    Löwstedt, J. (ed.) (1989) Organisation och teknikförändring. Lund: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    Brytting, T. & Löwstedt, J. (1986) Organisationsfrihet-visst finns det! Stockholm: EFIGoogle Scholar
  26. 27.
    Tidd (1991) Flexible Manufacturing Technologies and International Competitiveness. London: Frances Pinter.Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    See for example Roland Steen (1982) Progress Review of the Development Program on New Technology. Management and Working Life. Stockholm: Swedish Work Enviroment Fund.; Hörte, Sven-Åke (1987) The Development Project at the D III Factory in Gothenburg. Gothenburg: Institute for Management of Innovation and Technology.Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    See for example Rosenbrock, H. (1990) Machines with a purpose. Oxford: Oxford University Press and Rosenbrock, H. (1989) Designing Human-Centred Technology Berlin: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  29. 30.
    Docherty, P. et al (1974) Hur man lyckas med systemutveckling: En analys av fem praktikfall. Stockholm: EFI.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    Björkman, T. and Lundqvist, K. (1986). Yrkeskunnande och datorisering. Stockholm: StatskontoretGoogle Scholar
  31. 32.
    Hirshhorn, L. (1984). Beyond Mechanization: Work and Technology in a Postindustrial Age. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press.Google Scholar
  32. 33.
    Davis, L.E. & Taylor, J.C. (1976) “Technology, Organization and Job Structure” in Handbook of Word. Organization and Society. Skokei, IL: Rand-McNally.Google Scholar
  33. 34.
    Weick, K. (1990) “Technology as Equivogue: Sense making in New Technologies” in Goodman, P.S., Sproull, L.S. and Assoc. (ed) San Fransisco: Jossey-BassGoogle Scholar
  34. 35.
    Masuschs, M. (1974) Unddannelersektorens politiska ekonomi-lära arbetet och lönearbetet i kapitalismen. Köpenhamn: RhodosGoogle Scholar
  35. 36.
    Gerwin, D. & Kolodny, H. (1992). Management of Advanced Manufacturing Technology: Strategy. Organization and Innovation. Chichester: John Wiley & SonsGoogle Scholar
  36. 37.
    Zuboff, S. (1989) In the Age of the Smart Machine in the Future of Work and Power. Oxford: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  37. 38.
    Docherty, P. & Dilschmann, A. (1992) Lärande med förhinder: När teknikstöd blir teknikstyrning. Stockholm: Arbetsmiljöfonden MDA Rapport 1992:12.Google Scholar
  38. 39.
    Hacker, W. (1987) “Computerization Versus Computer-Aided Mental Work” in Frese., M. H., Ulich, E. and Dzida, W. (eds): Human Computer Interaction in the Work Place. Amsterdam: North-HollandGoogle Scholar
  39. 40.
    Beckman, J. & Steineck, J. (1991) DUS-projektet vid Centralstudiemedelsnämnden. Stockholm: Statskontoret; Docherty, P. & Dilschmann, A. (1992), op. cit.Google Scholar
  40. 41.
    Stern, D. (1992) “Institutions and Incentives for Developing Work-Related Knowledge and Skill” in Adler, P. (ed) Technology and the Future of Work. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. 42.
    Bråten, S. (1983) Dialogens villkor i datasamfundet. Oslo: Universitetsförlaget.Google Scholar
  42. 43.
    Mårtensson, L. (1987) Developments at ASEA Distribution. Stockholm: Arbetsmiljölaboratoriet, Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm. Forss, P. and Ehn, P. (1992) Local planning systems in Production at Swedish Rail. Stockholm: IMITGoogle Scholar
  43. 44.
    See, for example, the literature regarding Learned helplessness including, for example Lennerlöf, L. (1986) Kompetens eller hjälplöshet: Om lärande i arbete: En forskningsöversikt. Stocholm: Arbetsmiljöinstitutet.Google Scholar
  44. 45.
    Eilström, P.E. (1992) “Kompetens och arbetsorganisation” in Marking, C. (ed.) Kompetens i arbete. Stockholm: Publika.Google Scholar
  45. 46.
    Rasmussen, J. (1986) Information Processing and Human-Machine Interaction. Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  46. 47.
    Ciborra, C. U. and Schneider, L.S. (1992) “Transforming the Routines and Contexts of Management, Work, and Technology” in Adler, P. (ed) Technology and the Future of Work. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. 48.
    Ciborra and Schneider (op. cit.) maintain that their concept “formative context” is different from the concepts of mental models and organisational culture, though their distinction is not clear to this author.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Docherty
  • Christer Marking

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations