Company Competence: Understanding. Management. Implementation.

A Look Back at the 2014 Steinbeis Consulting Day

Company competence is the key to competitive success. Companies are no longer seen as the sum of all their resources. What’s more important is exactly how different skills and competences are configured and assembled. In the debate on company competence – until now – firms have typically been viewed from the personnel or human resources perspective. But a competence-based view on companies also means examining all other departmental functions and specific contributions to company competence as a whole. This approach towards company competence was the focus of discussion for over 300 delegates at this year’s Steinbeis Consulting Day, which took part at the Stuttgart House of Commerce (Haus der Wirtschaft) in July.

At the event, company competence was not only examined from a science and research point of view, but also from the perspective of business  practice and consulting. Throughout, emphasis was placed on interaction with the audience.

The first part of the day consisted in an introduction to company competence and into the current debate. Prof. Dr. John Erpenbeck (Steinbeis University Berlin) explained why he concludes that company competence can be considered  as the propensity to organize oneself, outlining the connection between individual competences and system competences. In his speech, Prof. Dr. Klaus North (Wiesbaden Business School, Rhein-Main University of Applied Sciences) discussed recent research findings as well as methods and concepts of knowledge management in companies as a key prerequisite for successful competence management. Martin Kimmich (Festo AG & Co. KG) crystallized this issue with the example of knowledge management at Festo and presented vivid insights into the structures, methods and tools used, as well as examples for implementation at the company level.

Some insights into future competence management were provided by Prof. Dr. Johanna Anzengruber (Steinbeis University Berlin/Siemens AG). Anzengruber stressed that the current dis-tinction between company competence and individual competence must be overcome in competence management re-search. With an appeal for the development of integrative concepts of competence assessment in management and con-sulting, she argued in favor of a holistic approach to company competence. Kristian Dencovski of Siemens then spoke about the practical application of “tomorrow’s competence management” in the health care sector. His speech on the Siemens Healthcare CV method drew on the example of in-vitro diagnostics.

During the second part of the day, the focus lay on the measurement and analysis of company competence and the Company Competence Check© (UKC) de-veloped by Steinbeis. In his presentation, Dr. Michael Ortiz (Steinbeis headquarters) provided insights into the project looking at the underlying concept and the development of the instrument, showing the project´s key aims and milestones as well as initial results of the concept development process. Ortiz also discussed the results of a study on “Organization-al Capabilities and Holistic Competence Measurement – The Steinbeis Company Competence Check,” which was pub-lished for the Consulting Day. This involved the evaluation of two empirical pretests and a comparative case study to derive conclusions regarding the functionality scope and validity of the instrument. Prof. Dr. Michael Brucksch (Steinbeis University Berlin) used his speech to describe his experiences with the UKC and derived expectations and requirements of a competence analysis tool from the perspective of a consultant. Brucksch also emphasized the significant benefits this automated and partially automated procedure can bring, especially with regard to initial analysis. But he also pointed to the indispensible role of classic, methodically sound, detailed analysis conducted manually by consultants.

In the third and final part of the day, experts from science and industry took part in an interactive panel discussion with the audience to discuss and debate the topic of company competence once more from a critical perspective. Prof. Dr. Johanna An-zengruber and Prof. Dr. Michael Brucksch were joined in the panel discussion by Prof. Dr. Andreas Aulinger (Steinbeis University Berlin). Aulinger highlighted the fact that competence management is a new and appealing attempt on behalf of companies to identify the right buttons to press for a company to succeed and keep developing these mechanisms. The organi-zational experts consider it a huge challenge for competence management to capture the deep-seated fea-tures of corporate culture in an appropriate manner. Prof. Dr. Marc Drüner (Steinbeis University Berlin) asserted that a competence model can no longer survive without the involvement of the company communications department. Use of new media, IT and social networks have become key competences in modern times, especially in marketing where such skilled implementation is indispensible. For Holger Regber (Festo Didactic GmbH & Co. KG), the ability of a company to change is a core compe-tence. Regber believes that adaptability, along the lines of a “learning organization” in market and environmental pro-cesses dictated by change, is becoming an essential prerequisite for business success. Coaching and learning, both for-mal and informal, are pivotal instruments to engender this change in a company.

The day was moderated by Prof. Dr. Thomas Breyer-Mayländer, vice-chancellor of marketing and organizational development at the University of Applied Sciences Offenburg. As a synopsis of the day, he addressed all interested guests and invited them to contribute actively to the further development of the Steinbeis Company Competence Check and to join the Steinbeis Consulting Groups for this purpose, which are to be initiated around the UKC‘s different dimensions and fields of application.


Videos of the Steinbeis Consulting Day can be viewed by going to the Steinbeis media library at The next Steinbeis Consulting Day will take place on June 29, 2016 in Stuttgart.

Dr. Michael Ortiz
Steinbeis Head Office, Steinbeis Consulting Centers (Stuttgart)

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