22 SES 01 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Parallel Paper Session
International concerns about depletion of natural capital have led to a worldwide focus on sustainability. Sustainable development requires careful balancing of social, natural, and financial recourses and as one of the greatest users of natural and human recourses, organizations all over the world are being encouraged or forced, to take up their responsibility and invest in sustainable development. But what implications does this responsibility have for professionals working in this environment? Professionals need to be equipped with (new) skills and competencies that allow them to contribute actively to sustainable development and benefit from emerging new forms of socialization.
Therefore, a reasonable question is, which skills or competencies should sustainability-professionals acquire to operate effectively? Chalkley (2006) suggested that sustainability-professionals should not only know about sustainable issues, they should also have the skills to act sustainably if they wish and, furthermore, they should have the personal and emotional attributes that require them to behave sustainably. But the list should not be a separate ‘laundry’ list of knowledge, skills, and attitudes (and/or attributes) as is done in one-dimensional frameworks of competence (e.g., Segalas, Ferrer-Balas, Svanstrom, Lundqvist and Mulder, 2009), because these detailed lists cannot provide guidelines for curriculum/program development (Barnett, 1994). Indeed, one-dimensional perspectives are given way to multi-dimensional approaches of competence, which considers knowledge, skills, and attitudes as dimensions of competence (Le Deist & Winterton, 2005). Competence in this respect is defined as an integrated performance-oriented capability of a person to reach specific achievements, in which ‘integrated’ refers to a cohesive complex of knowledge, skills, and attitude and the integration with the context in which successful performance has to take place (Mulder, 2011). Le Deist and Winterton’s (2005) holistic approach of understanding the combination of cognitive-, functional-, social-, and meta-competences necessary for a profession could be useful in determining which competencies sustainability-professionals need to perform effectively, as this perspective prevents the risk of atomization (i.e., one-dimensional perspective).
Several scholars (especially in the field of higher education) have addressed the importance/relevance of sustainability-related competencies. For example Nijhof et al., 2005 studied competence development from a managerial perspective and formulated a six-step model for developing collective corporate social responsibility-related competencies. Willard et al. (2010) identified hard- (e.g., strategic planning) and soft-competencies (e.g., communication skills) as being important for successful performance of sustainability-professionals. However, despite scholar’s interest in this subject, a comprehensive list of individual sustainability-related competencies is still lacking. Moreover, it is also unclear which of the competencies mentioned by scholars are derived through empirical research. Therefore, a comprehensive list of (empirical underpinned) sustainability-related competencies could be very useful; it could guide schools and corporations in selecting personnel and (learning) activities for curriculum development or enhancement of organizational sustainability-performance. The current study attempts to constructs such a list by answering the following research questions:
- Which individual competencies associated with organization's sustainability-performance are mentioned in scientific studies? (RQ1)
- What is the nature of these statements (anecdotal, monographic statement, empirical review, or single study empirical work); i.e., are these statements based on empirical studies? (RQ2)
Barnett, R. (1994). The limits of competence: Knowledge, higher education and society. Buckingham, UK: Open University Press. Breu, T., Maselli, D., & Hurni, H. (2005). Knowledge for sustainable development in the Tajik Pamir Mountains. Mountain Research and Development, 25(2), 139-146. doi: 10.1659/0276-4741(2005)025[0139:kfsdit]2.0.co;2 Chalkley, B. (2006). Education for sustainable development: continuation. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 30(2), 235-236. Le Deist, F. D., & Winterton, J. (2005). What is competence? Human Resource Development International, 8(1), 27-46. Mulder, M. (2011). The concept of competence: Blessing or a curse? In: I. Torniainen, S. Mahlameäki-Kultanen, P. Nokelainen, & P. Ilsley (eds), Innovations for competence management: Conference Proceedings (pp. 11-24). Lathi, Finland: Lahti University of Applied Science. Nijhof, A., de Bruijn, T. Fisscher, O., Jonker, J., Karssing, E., & Schoemaker, M.(2005). Learning to be responsible: developing competencies for organisation wide CSR. In: J. Jonker, & J. Cramer (eds.), Making a difference: the Dutch national program on corporate social responsibility (pp. 57-84). The Hague, the Netherlands: Ministry of Economic Affairs. Pies, I., Beckmann, M., & Hielscher, S. (2010). Value creation, management competencies, and global corporate citizenship: An ordonomic approach to business ethics in the age of globalization. Journal of Business Ethics, 94(2), 265-278. doi: 10.1007/s10551-009-0263-1. Segalas, J. Ferrer-Balas, D., Svanstrom, M., Lundqvist, U., & Mulder, K.F. (2009). What has to be learnt for sustainability? A comparison of bachelor engineering education competencies at three European universities. Sustainable Science, 4(1), 17-27. Wiek, A., Withycombe, L., & Redman, C. L. (2011). Key competencies in sustainability: a reference framework for academic program development. Sustainability Science, 6(2), 203-218. doi: 10.1007/s11625-011-0132-6 Willard, M., Wiedmeyer, C., Warren Flint, R., Weedon, J. S., Woodward, R., Feldman, I., & Edwards, M., (Autumn 2010). The sustainability professional: 2010 competency survey report. Environmental Quality Management, 49-83.
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