Towards a shared understanding of competencies

Today I was invited to a meeting of the IEEE LTSC WG20 for starting a liaison activity between the various stakeholders in competency-based data management. Its goal was to form a group for developing a shared conceptual model. I have presented a very brief summary of our work in that area:

Here is also the position paper.

One of my main points was that we need to look at the use cases and their specific requirements as many of the misunderstandings come from the implicit assumption of a certain use case. Our initial analysis of use cases is reported here:

Simone Braun, Christine Kunzmann, Andreas Schmidt
People Tagging & Ontology Maturing: Towards Collaborative Competence Management
In: David Randall and Pascal Salembier (eds.): From CSCW to Web2.0: European Developments in Collaborative Design Selected Papers from COOP08, Computer Supported Cooperative Work vol. , Springer, 2010

Some use cases, like people finding, only rely on very weak notions of interests, while others – like career planning and rewarding schemes – rely on sound competency definitions. This is very important to understand – because all of them tend to speak of competencies. This also helps to understand why in some cases >700 competencies are appropriate, and in others 20 might be sufficient.

For a general conceptual model, I have pointed out the following challenges:

  • Competencies are cultural abstractions
  • Competency definitions are implicitly contextualized and a certain degree of ambiguity will always remain.
  • Competency definitions are purpose-driven conceptualizations
  • Competencies are time-dependent conceptualizations