The “competence” movement as an approach to education, training and development is based on a belief in defining purpose and outcome in standardized, measurable terms. It parallels other concerns for control, such as performance indicators and standards, and returns to many of the features of the behavioural objectives movement in the 1960s which similarly paralleled management by objectives and various forms of scientific management. The competence movement is contentious but the nature of the debate is not clear. Suggests that the debate can be mapped in three dimensions: micro to macro issues, theoretical to practical issues, and technical to political issues. Explores this by examining the position of the main stakeholders who have an interest in the competence movement. The competence movement tends to attempt to impose a simplifying model of education, training, learning development and work and organizational process, and many of its problems can be seen to result from this simplification such as the reduction of all learning to a single stairway of levels.
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