The Construction of Management
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The Construction of Management

Competence and Gender Issues at Work

Brownen Ann Rees

Despite continuing equal opportunity approaches, women are still significantly under-represented at senior management levels and earn less than male colleagues. The author questions whether competence systems – developed and implemented in the workplace to provide objective measurement of management performance – contribute to, rather than improve, women’s disadvantaged position in the workplace.
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Chapter 9: Finding a Way Forward: Competence as Organisational Learning

Brownen Ann Rees


Rather than falling into the trap of one-dimensionalism or negativity that bedevils much critical management theory, this chapter is an attempt at drawing some lessons from the research that may be useful for the pragmatic agenda of management. It draws together the findings from the spread of organisations and sets out a ‘learning’ model for organisations wishing to introduce competences, but also seeking to avoid the traps of ‘disciplinary’ practices. Organisations need systems and processes. They consist of the system and the lifeworld. Competence models, in themselves, may be useful tools for organisations – but there needs to be space for reflexive practices in the competence processes. Drawing on the experiences set out in the empirical material, I further adapt the original competence process such that there is opportunity for ‘learning’ to take place. This chapter brings together the findings to open up possibilities of pragmatic ways in which organisations may enhance the use of competence frameworks. 9.1 DIFFERENCES AND SIMILARITIES IN FRAMEWORKS This initial comparison showed how competence frameworks varied in their depth and rigour, depending on the environment in which the company was operating, the culture of the company and the reasons for introducing competences in the first place. These are reproduced in Table 9.1. Depth and rigour is equated with the extent to which the competence strategies were closely locked into human resource structures of recruitment, selection and appraisal, how far down the organisation the competence approach penetrated, and the extent and rigidity of the company documentation and...

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