How do you measure competence?

The SIBE Competence Model for governmental administration in Brazil

Brazil is enjoying an upswing, and economic development has become more and more dynamic in recent years. Brazilian markets are gaining in importance for German businesses and many large companies now have subsidiaries there, providing them with a strong foothold in the country. For Brazilians, it is becoming increasingly important to manage skills, as was confirmed by the National Congress of Knowledge Management in the Public Sector (CONGEP, Congresso Nacional de Gestão do Conhecimento na Esfera Pública). Almost 400 people attended the convention, most of them from public bodies and educational establishments. It was opened by a speech held by Silke Keim from the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) at Steinbeis University Berlin, which was received with great interest.

For many Brazilians, Germany acts as a role model for training, staff development and university education. It is also admired for its public administration. Unlike in Germany, however, in Brazil, considerably higher importance is given to knowledge and skills management. In fact, it is captured in the Brazilian Federal Ordinance. Consequently, a convention addressing these topics (CONGEP) has been held in recent years.

The sixth CONGEP took place last August in Brasilia, the country’s capital. In the opening remarks, Silke Keim discussed the application of competence management in the public sector, and introduced the concept of “project skills degrees” at Steinbeis University Berlin as well as KODE®/KODE®X, the instrument for measuring competence. The audience listened attentively, as these points found interest in light of the current restructuring of Brazilian ministries and lower-level authorities. It was evident from the subsequent discussion that skills management could be an important consideration during the reorganization, and in filling new positions. The measurement techniques used by SIBE are ideally suited to the administrative reorganization that is about to take place because it allows managers to lay down target profiles by department and define required skills. It also provides support and useful pointers with self-assessments and third-party evaluations.

Silke Keim joined Peter Dostler, SIBE’s business partner in Brazil, and managing director of the Brazilian consulting company GD Consult, to discuss specific approaches in a series of workshops at CONGEP. The workshops involved over 80 representatives of government ministries. In addition, SIBE is now setting up a collaborative project with local partners. A team of Brazilian consultants will be trained to use KODE®/KODE®X assessment methods, adapted in terms of programming and language to Brazilian projects. This will make it possible for the Brazilian ministries to focus on projects and skills in their work and training.

The Brazilians define competence as the interplay between knowledge, skills and attitude in order to carry out work, solve problems or achieve results – or all of these together. Their definition is an excellent fit with the SIBE description of competence developed by Prof. John Erpenbeck, which defines competence as the “Disposition to self-organize one’s work,” which lies at the heart of the KODE®/KODE®X instrument.


Silke Keim
SAPHIR Kompetenz GmbH (Stuttgart)

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